Monday, January 20, 2020

Some impeachment articles . . .

How Trump’s Impeachment Differs from a Criminal Trial

Adapted from an item at at:

In President Donald Trump’s trial, the Senate will serve as both judge and jury. The Republicans who control the chamber can forge their own rules if they have enough votes. And the presiding judge is the top one in America, yet can be decisively overruled.

A look at some of the key differences between a courtroom trial and the impeachment trial that will play out in the coming days.

Federal trials, both civil and criminal, are presided over by District Court judges who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They rule on questions of evidence, motions to dismiss a case or to exclude certain testimony, and all other disputes that emerge both before and during the trial.
None other than John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, will preside over this case. Exactly what role he’ll play is unclear, though it may be a modest one in keeping with his insistence that judges aren’t meant to be politicians. And even if Roberts were to make a ruling from the chair, 51 senators can vote to overrule him.

It’s a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence, and enshrined in the Constitution, that defendants have the right to have their fate decided by a jury of their peers — ordinary citizens who, by design, are meant to lack personal connections to the parties, or other biases or motives that could sway their judgment. They’re questioned in advance on their ability to evaluate the evidence fairly and impartially.
The jury pool here is already preordained under the Constitution and neither side gets any say in who gets to hear the case. The 100 senators who make up the chamber will decide the case, invariably bringing their own partisan leanings toward one side or the other. They’re not required to check any political prejudices or biases at the door — nor will they. They’re also not impassive observers, carrying the power on a majority vote to approve rules or even dismiss the charges.

The attorneys for both sides get to call the witnesses they think will bolster their side of the case. The lawyers themselves handle the direct questioning and cross-examination, though judges may also ask clarifying questions. Jurors are not invited to interrupt the proceedings with their own questions, nor do they get to decide whether witnesses are called.
The senators themselves, in their roles as jurors, will have the opportunity to submit questions in writing. Under the rules, senators can even be called as witnesses in the trial. And it’s not even automatic that there will be witnesses: It requires 51 votes for witnesses to be called.

Federal criminal cases are tried by prosecutors who work for the Justice Department, their names generally unfamiliar to the American public. In state and local proceedings, those prosecutors are often known as assistant district attorneys. They don’t align themselves with particular political parties or affiliations.
The prosecutors here aren’t prosecutors in the traditional sense. They’re actually seven Democratic members of Congress, all selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and given the title of “manager.” Some of the seven are familiar faces from their time leading congressional investigations into Trump, including Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York.

To declare a defendant guilty in a criminal case, either on the state or federal level, a jury must be unanimous in its decision — no exceptions. If a jury can’t reach a verdict after a prolonged period of deliberations, then a judge can declare it as deadlocked and dismiss it from duty.
No such unanimity is required here. It would take a two-thirds majority of senators, 67 if all 100 are voting, to convict the president. Since Republicans make up the majority of the Senate, a conviction is seen as unlikely. If Trump were convicted on either of the two articles against him, he would automatically be removed from office.

Presidential impeachments


Only three U.S. presidents have been formally impeached by Congress—Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. 
So far, no U.S. president has ever been removed from office through impeachment.  
In addition to Johnson, Clinton and Trump, only one other U.S. president has faced formal impeachment inquiries in the House of Representatives: Richard Nixon. 
Many other presidents have been threatened with impeachment by political foes without gaining any real traction in Congress. The framers of the Constitution intentionally made it difficult for Congress to remove a sitting president. The impeachment process starts in the House of Representatives with a formal impeachment inquiry. If the House Judiciary Committee finds sufficient grounds, its members write and pass articles of impeachment, which then go to the full House for a vote. A simple majority in the House is all that’s needed to formally impeach a president. But that doesn’t mean he or she is out of a job. 
The final stage is the Senate impeachment trial. Only if two-thirds of the Senate find the president guilty of the crimes laid out in the articles of impeachment is the POTUS removed from office. Although Congress has impeached and removed eight federal officials—all federal judges—no president has ever been found guilty during a Senate impeachment trial. Andrew Johnson came awfully close, though; he barely escaped a guilty verdict by one vote.
More details about the above impeachment episodes, and why they happened,  at:

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