Articles of impeachment charging US President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress were delivered to the Senate on Wednesday, setting a trial in motion.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell announced that the articles would be formally read to the chamber Thursday at noon, 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 open 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, according to the AFP news agency, referring to the authors of the US Constitution.
“I’m confident that this body can rise above short-termism and factional fever and serve the long-term best interests of our nation. We can do this, and we must,” he added.
The articles were delivered to the Senate hours after House Democrats voted to send them.
The vote, scheduled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cut virtually across party lines, with 227 Democrats supporting the resolution and 192 Republicans opposing it, according to The Hill.
The final vote tally, however, was 228-193 with Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), who voted against the impeachment articles, being the only Democrat to buck the party line and vote against the resolution. Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who switched from Republican to Independent last year, voted in favor of the resolution.
Aside from transmitting the articles, the resolution also provides funding for the impeachment process and officially appoints the seven Democrats who will serve as impeachment managers, whom Pelosi named shortly before Wednesday’s vote.
Democrats voted largely along party lines to impeach Trump on these two impeachment articles on December 18.
Shortly after that vote, however, Pelosi chose to withhold the articles from the upper chamber as leverage to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow witnesses and other new evidence to be considered as part of the trial.
The move triggered a clash of the political titans, with both leaders using the undefined constitutional rules of impeachment to their strategic advantage.
A break in the stalemate came when Pelosi, facing pressure from both parties in the Senate, chose to transmit the articles even as McConnell indicated he had the Republican votes to adopt a set of trial rules that excluded guaranteed votes on potential witnesses, as Democrats have demanded.