These Are the Differences in Trump's 2 Impeachment Trials

With opening arguments expected to begin on the Senate floor Tuesday, former President Donald Trump will face his second impeachment trial this week. Although he is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, there are some difference that distinguish the upcoming trial from the last.

The key distinction that Trump's legal team and allies have used to build the defense argument is that he is no longer in office, unlike the 2019 trial when he was the sitting president.

The House voted on the article of impeachment before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, but by the time the trial begins, Trump will have been a private citizen for 20 days. This makes him the first former president to face impeachment. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both in office at the time of their trials. However, other former federal officials have been impeached in the past.

Trump attorneys have argued that the trial is unconstitutional because a private citizen cannot be impeached, but the procedural argument has been shot down by a number of legal experts on both sides of the aisle, who have noted that the provision in the Constitution allows the Senate to bar a former president from running for office again.

Trump has indicated he would run again in 2024, but a conviction, followed by a simple majority vote, would ban him from running for federal office again.

The background of the second impeachment also differs from the first. Last time, Trump was charged by the House with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress for allegedly attempting to coerce Ukrainian officials to provide election interference against Biden.

Instead of two articles of impeachment, the House only adopted a single article of impeachment this time around. Trump is being charged with "incitement of insurrection" against the U.S. government, citing his appearance at the rally that led to the deadly Capitol riot and his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that sought to overturn the results of the election.

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The front page of The New York Times newspaper shows National Guard soldiers bivouacked inside Capitol Hill on January 14. The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will begin on Tuesday. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty

Trump's second impeachment also saw a break among party lines. While all 195 House Republicans voted against impeachment in 2019, 10 GOP members joined their Democrat colleagues in backing impeachment in January.

Representative Liz Cheney, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, was among those supporters. In the past couple of weeks, the GOP has grappled with whether to keep Cheney in her leadership position due to her vote.

A secret vote among House Republicans showed she had the support of the silent majority, but after securing her position, Cheney blasted Trump in an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, defending her stance on impeachment and further disavowing him.

"We should not be embracing the former president," Cheney said on Sunday, adding that Trump "does not have a role as the leader of our party going forward."

The political backdrop of this week's impeachment trial will not just look different in the House but also in the Senate, where senators typically serve as the jurors during impeachment trials. A conviction remains unlikely for Trump, but at least five Senate Republicans have supported going forward with the trial.

During the first trial, when Republicans controlled the Senate, Senator Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote guilty on the abuse of power count. Trump was exonerated by all GOP senators on the second count.

In a procedural vote brought forward by Senator Rand Paul last month, five Senate Republicans voted not to dismiss the second impeachment trial. Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse and Patrick Toomey joined Romney this time.

The second impeachment trial will also take place under a split Senate, which means Vice President Kamala Harris would serve as the tie-breaking vote, should it be required. A conviction would require at least 17 Republicans to cross party lines.