Democrats are looking ahead to the impending Senate trial of Donald Trump, as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on articles of impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has sent a letter to Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, outlining what he thinks is a fair use of the Senate’s “sole power of impeachment.”
Thanks to the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, it’s almost certain that the house will vote to impeach President Trump. Once that vote has been cast, the impeachment trial will move to the Senate, where senators will decide whether to acquit Trump of the impeachment charges or to remove him from office.
What is not yet certain is the shape the impeachment trial will take. The Senate has full control over how it chooses to run the impeachment trial, and Senator Schumer’s letter suggests a full outline for how the Democratic Senators would like to see things shape up.
“Senate Democrats believe strongly, and I trust Senate Republicans agree, that this trial must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts, and that exercises the Senate’s ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ under the Constitution with integrity and dignity,” reads Schumer’s letter to McConnell.
Schumer adds that this trial will need to pass a “fairness test with the American people.” Additionally, Schumer calls for several key witnesses to appear before the Senate during the trial: Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff at the White House; Mulvaney’s senior advisor Robert Blair; Michael Duffey, from the Office of Management and Budget; and John Bolton, the former national security advisor.
All four of the men named in Schumer’s letter resisted official Congressional subpoenas on the orders of the White House. The legality of the executive branch directly contradicting the legislative branch is still unclear, as it represents an unprecedented disagreement in US politics.
Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate: 53 to 47. However, it would take two-thirds of the Senate to remove Trump from office. This is unlikely, as it would mean that 24 Republican senators would need to break with their party.
However, impeachment could mean more than just the threat of being removed from office: Republicans and Trump could suffer politically from a drawn-out Senate trial. There is some fear among Republicans that a prolonged televised trial with witness statements could sour moderate voters on Republicans, and could hand massive 2020 victories to Democrats.