"Where else than in the Senate could have been found a tribunal sufficiently dignified, or sufficiently independent? What other body would be likely to feel CONFIDENCE ENOUGH IN ITS OWN SITUATION, to preserve, unawed and uninfluenced, the necessary impartiality between an INDIVIDUAL accused, and the REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE, HIS ACCUSERS?" - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 65, March 7, 1788.
On January 15, 2020, the House of Representatives delivered the two articles of impeachment to the Senate, triggering a series of events that will culminate with the Senate impeachment trial beginning in earnest on Tuesday, January 21. By a near-party-line vote of 228-193, with nine members not voting, the House adopted H.Res.798, a resolution appointing and authorizing managers for the impeachment trial of President Trump and authorizing transmittal of the impeachment articles to the Senate.
Lawmakers returned from the holidays to the same impeachment deadlock that existed since the House voted on the impeachment articles several weeks earlier. No deal had been struck between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the framework of the impeachment trial. Consequently, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had not sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate, despite an increasing number of powerful Democrats in the Senate calling on her to do so. Timing was becoming an issue for the five Senators running for the Democratic presidential primary, as a continued delay would interfere with the run-up to the Iowa caucus scheduled on February 3. On the Republican side, Senator Josh Hawley had introduced a resolution, which Senator McConnell signed onto, calling for the dismissal of the articles of impeachment. Hawley referred to his resolution as a "motion to dismiss," but it became clear that there was not enough support to pass the resolution.
Leader McConnell has said that he has the 51 votes needed to move forward with setting the ground rules of the impeachment trial, without any Democratic support. McConnell has insisted that he wants to see the trial conducted in the exact same manner as the Clinton impeachment trial—which had a unanimous vote on setting up "phase one" of that trial, which would include the opening statements and presentation of the evidence drawn from the House investigations. The key issue for Democrats is whether there will be the possibility of presenting new witnesses at the trial, as former national security adviser John Bolton has stated he would honor a subpoena requesting him to testify at the trial. McConnell has said that such witness testimony would be voted upon in a second phase of the trial, where the votes of certain key Republican Senators up for re-election or who have broken with McConnell before, including Senators Collins, Murkowski, Romney and Gardner, might be enough to issue a subpoena to Bolton. Any vote taken during the Senate trial will require 51 votes to pass.
Speaker Pelosi named the seven House Democrats who will serve as impeachment managers and present the evidence before the Senate. They include Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, both key players in the House impeachment investigation; and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who was a congressional staffer during the Nixon impeachment and a member of Congress during the Clinton impeachment. Rounding out the management team are Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Sylvia Garcia and Jason Crow. The trial technically began on Thursday, January 16, with Chief Justice Roberts administering the impeachment oath, where Senators pledged to "do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws." The substantive portion of the trial will begin on Tuesday, January 21, with Senators required to participate in silence, without their phones, from Tuesday through Saturday of every week until the trial is concluded. The Clinton impeachment trial lasted 37 days. For context, 37 days from January 16 is February 22, just 10 days before Super Tuesday of the Democratic presidential primary.
Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65 that the Senate was the most appropriate body to conduct an impeachment trial, but he also presciently forecasted that any such impeachment case will "connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other."
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