Trump impeachment: Chief justice and senators sworn in for President's trial

17 January 2020, 00:16

Trump is facing an impeachment trial in the US Senate
Trump is facing an impeachment trial in the US Senate. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Chief Justice John Roberts has been sworn in to oversee US President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Mr Roberts administered the oath to all members of the Senate to ensure "impartial justice" is served.

The Senate trial of Donald Trump, only the third of its kind in American history, was initiated after the US House of Representatives voted to send articles of impeachment to the Upper Chamber.

Mr Trump is facing allegations that he tried to pressure the Ukrainian President into investigating the son of his potential 2020 presidential rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage.

The trial will commence next Tuesday, despite the US President branding the process a "hoax" and a "con job."

Senators were called up one by one to sign the oath book
Senators were called up one by one to sign the oath book. Picture: PA

Chief Justice Roberts, usually of the Supreme Court, made the short journey over the road to be ushered to the Senate chamber.

"Will all senators now stand, and remain standing, and raise their right hand," Mr Roberts said.

"Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?"

The senators responded and were then called up to sign the oath book one by one.

Mr Roberts will preside over the trial as a referee, rather than actively taking part in the debate. He has long said judges are not politicians and should leave their politics outside the courtroom.

Senators will give the final verdict on the president's fate.

Chief Justice Roberts will preside over the trial
Chief Justice Roberts will preside over the trial. Picture: PA

Democrats in the House of Representatives stood before the Senate earlier on Thursday and formally read the articles of impeachment against Mr Trump.

"Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye!" said the Senate's sergeant at arms, calling the proceedings to order at noon.

Senators silently took their seats in the chamber under strict trial rules that prohibit talking and mobile phones.

The ceremonial procedure saw the process of impeachment formally switch from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Democrat-run House to the Republican-majority Senate.

Adam Schiff of the intelligence committee and Jerrold Nadler of the judiciary committee are leading the prosecution against the president.

"With the permission of the Senate, I will now read the articles of impeachment," said Mr Schiff.

"House Resolution 755 Impeaching Donald John Trump, president of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanours," he continued.

Trump has rubbished the trial, calling it a "hoax"
Trump has rubbished the trial, calling it a "hoax". Picture: PA

Along with pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr Trump was also charged with obstructing Congress' investigation into his alleged misdemeanours.

The US President has repeatedly denied the charges, despite the emergence of fresh information about how he dealt with Ukraine.

A close associate of Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed the US leader "knew exactly what was going on."

Lev Parnas alleged that he gave the incoming president of Ukraine an ultimatum in May that no senior US officials would attend his inauguration and all American aid to the country would be withheld if an investigation into Joe Biden was not announced.

Ms Pelosi said new allegations reinforced the need for the Senate to consider further testimony.

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