WASHINGTON — Trump’s impeachment trial has officially started.
The two articles of impeachment were read on the Senate floor by the House impeachment managers Thursday, kicking off the Senate trial.
“Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the presidency,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of the seven impeachment managers, as he read the articles.
“President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election,” Schiff said, “soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States presidential election to his advantage.”
The two articles of impeachment read into the official record by Schiff that the Senate will vote on: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The first focuses on Trump’s apparent efforts to pressure Ukraine’s government into announcing investigations into his political foes, an effort that included the Trump administration withholding military aid to the embattled country that had been approved by Congress.
The second pertains to Trump’s attempts to completely stonewall Congress as it investigated his alleged wrongdoing.
The Senate will actually be sworn in for the trial by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at 2 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, and the trial itself will get going in earnest on Tuesday.
The trial itself will run six days a week with breaks on Sundays, beginning at noon every day.
The reading of the impeachment articles came after bombshell developments in the past day and a half that further damage Trump’s claims of innocence.
First, the House Intelligence Committee released a trove of communications from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani who helped Trump’s personal lawyer push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. The notes, texts, letters and emails provided by Parnas showed he was directly involved in pushing Ukraine’s government to investigate Biden and his son Hunter. Parnas then gave a bombshell interview to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow Wednesday night where he said Trump was directly involved in the plot.
And on Thursday morning, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office ruled that the Trump administration had broken the law when it held up funds for Ukraine that had been appropriated by Congress.
It remains to be seen how much of a real trial we'll see in the Senate, however. Trump’s team has made clear they want a short trial, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has so far refused to commit to calling witnesses.
Democrats will need four GOP senators to break with their party to be able to force witnesses like former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Parnas. Republicans have threatened to call Biden and his son Hunter if Democrats try to get fact witnesses in the trial, and it’s unclear whether there will be any at all.
The Senate is almost certain to vote against removing Trump — 67 senators would have to vote against him, including 20 GOP senators, and there’s no evidence at all that more than a handful are even open to hearing the evidence against him. But how the trial plays could have a major impact on Trump’s standing in the eyes of the American people — and his chances at reelection.
Cover: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., left, speaks during a news conference to announce impeachment managers at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)