Senate Rules for Trump’s Impeachment Trial

Trump’s second impeachment trial is scheduled to begin today in the Senate after the House charged him with inciting an insurrection for his actions in the January 6th riot at the Capitol. Yesterday, Trump’s lawyers exchanged pretrial legal briefs with House impeachment lawyers; Trump’s legal team argued that the trial is unconstitutional and therefore Trump will not be testifying on his own behalf. Senate leaders finally reached an agreement giving each side 16 hours to present their cases and call on witnesses. The trial will commence with a four hour debate on the constitutionality of the trial followed by a formal vote which is expected to pass with a majority vote in the Senate.

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House managers are scheduled to begin their presentation at 12 pm ET Wednesday and have up to 16 hours to fully present their case over the course of two days. At that point, Trump’s legal representatives will also have the same amount of time to present their case in favor of Trump. After both sides have presented their cases, senators will be allowed to ask written questions of both legal teams; questions will be read aloud by the presiding judge. Legal teams have the ability to call a debate or request further testimony by witnesses.

The following rules shall be upheld throughout Trump’s impeachment trial:

  • The House of Representatives must file all materials in advance so that it is available to both parties.
  • When the Senate convenes, each party will have exactly two hours to debate whether Trump is subject to impeachment.
  • After both sides have presented their debates, the Senate will vote on whether the proceeding is constitutional or not.
  • If the Senate votes against continuing the impeachment trial, the Secretary shall notify the House of Representatives immediately and the article of impeachment shall be dropped.
  • If the Senate affirms that the impeachment trial against Trump is constitutional, the trial shall proceed.
  • Trump and the House of Representatives have until 9am ET on Wednesday to file additional motions.
  • Responses to these motions must be filed by 11am ET.
  • All materials filed will be available to both sides.
  • Arguments for/against these motions will begin on Wednesday at 12pm ET and the Senate will vote to allow or disallow said motions.
  • The House of Representatives will have 16 hours over the course of two days to make their case for impeachment.
  • Trump’s team of representatives will then have the same amount of time to make their case against impeachment.
  • After both sides have presented their evidence, Senators may question both parties for up to 4 hours.
  • Each side has 2 hours to make closing arguments.
  • If either side wants to subpoena additional witnesses or admit new evidence, they must briefly argue their point and the Senate must vote to allow it or not.
  • If the Senate has not already voted on the article of impeachment, the court will reconvene at 2pm on Sunday, February 14 to do so.
  • Final arguments will be heard by both parties, not to exceed 2 hours each and the Senate will make their final decision.

Written by Kelly Stewart