The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is constitutional, the US Senate has found on February 9.
Therefore, the Senate is allowing full impeachment proceedings to begin.
Donald Trump’s defense team argued that he could not face trial after leaving the White House.
A 56-44 majority voted in favor of continuing, with a handful of Republicans backing the measure.
Donald Trump is accused of “inciting insurrection” when Congress was stormed on January 6.
Thousands gathered in support of claims that widespread electoral fraud denied Donald Trump victory in the presidential election.
However, Donald Trump is almost certain to be acquitted because only six Republican senators voted to move forward with impeachment, well short of the 17 Republicans whose votes would be needed to convict the former president.
Democrats prosecuting the case opened the proceedings by showing a dramatic video montage of Donald Trump’s January 6 speech and the deadly rioting by some of his supporters.
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said of the footage: “If that’s not an impeachable offence, then there’s no such thing.”
Donald Trump’s lawyers argued it was unconstitutional to put a former president through the process at all and accused Democrats of being politically motivated.
A two-thirds majority is required to convict Donald Trump in the evenly split 100-seat Senate. February 9 vote implies loyalty toward Donald Trump in the Republican Party remains high enough to avoid a conviction.
However, if convicted, the former president could be barred from holding office again.
Proceedings opened with impeachment managers – the Democrats tasked with leading the prosecution – arguing their attempts were legitimate.
In the 10-minute video used in their presentation, Donald Trump was shown telling his supporters to “fight like hell” before they stormed the Capitol in violence that resulted in five deaths – including a police officer.
Rep. Jamie Raskin was brought to tears as he recounted fear for his own family’s safety during the riot after he was separated from his visiting daughter.
“This cannot be the future of America,” he told senators, who act as jurors for impeachment.
“We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people under the Constitution of the United States.”
Rep. Raskin argued there could be no “January exception” to impeaching outgoing officials without risking a dangerous precedent.
Donald Trump’s lawyers then took the stand to outline their arguments with detailed complaints and allegations about due process and the constitutionality of proceedings.
Former Pennsylvania prosecutor Bruce Castor opened the defense with a meandering presentation that was met with a critical reception by even allies of the former president.
A second lawyer, David Schoen, was more pointed. He showed videos dating back to 2017 as evidence of what he labeled as an “insatiable lust for impeachment” among Democratic lawmakers.
He told senators: “What they really want to accomplish here in the name of the Constitution is to bar Donald Trump from ever running for political office again, but this is an affront to the Constitution no matter who they target today.”
Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the six to vote with Democrats, said after that the House prosecution had “made a compelling, cogent case and the president’s team did not”.
Media reports suggest Donald Trump – whose Twitter account has been banned – expressed anger at his lawyers’ performance while watching on TV from Florida.