SWITZERLAND, JANUARY 16 – The articles of impeachment charging US President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress were delivered to the Senate on Wednesday, setting in motion a historic trial that threatens his removal from office.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell announced that the articles would be formally read to the chamber on Thursday at noon (17:00 GMT), after which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will be sworn in to preside over the trial.
Senators will then be sworn in as jurors on Thursday and preparations will get underway for an impeachment trial that will begin on Tuesday, January 21.
“This is a difficult time for our country, but this is precisely the kind of time for which the framers created the Senate,” McConnell said, referring to the authors of the US Constitution.
The two articles of impeachment – one for abuse of power and the other for obstructing the House investigation – were delivered in blue folders in a solemn procession by the newly-appointed House managers, seven Democrats who will prosecute the case against the president.
“So sad, so tragic for our country, that the actions taken by the president to undermine our national security, to violate his oath of office and to jeopardise the security of our elections, has taken us to this place,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as she signed the articles.
“This president will be held accountable,” she said, adding: “No one is above the law.”
The solemn formalities underscored the grimness of the occasion, as Trump became only the third president in history of the United States to be placed on trial in the Senate.
“We feel we are carrying out the will of the framers of our constitution, and that’s a pretty serious load,” said Adam Schiff, the Democratic legislator who will lead the prosecution team.