Senate Authorizes Impeachment Trial

The U.S. Senate voted on Feb. 9 to authorize the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, overruling an argument by the defense alleging the Senate doesn’t have jurisdiction to try Trump because he’s now a private citizen.

Over the course of four hours, House impeachment managers and Trump’s attorneys presented their arguments for and against the constitutionality of the trial. In the end, 44 Republican senators voted in favor of dropping the trial because it’s illegitimate, seven votes short of the majority needed to stop the proceedings at the gate.

The lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), argued that discontinuing the trial because Trump has left office would create a “January exception,” during which future presidents could abuse their power without fear of being convicted and barred from holding future office.

“Conduct that would be a high crime and misdemeanor in your first year as president, in your second year as president, in your third year as president, and for the vast majority of your fourth year as president, you can suddenly do in your last few weeks in office without facing any constitutional accountability at all. This would create a brand new January exception to the Constitution of the United States of America,” Raskin said.

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