(Reuters) - The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives is expected to send formal impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to the Senate this week, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would help acquit his fellow Republican at a trial.
Here is what can be expected in the coming days and weeks:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will discuss next steps with rank-and-file Democrats at a morning caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol. The same lawmakers, who represent the House majority, voted along party lines on Dec. 18 to impeach Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.
Pelosi has already directed House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler to be ready to bring forward a resolution that would formally transmit the charges against Trump to the Senate.
The measure would also appoint a number of House Democrats as “managers,” who would prosecute Trump in the Senate on charges that he abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential contender for 2020, and that he obstructed efforts by Congress to uncover any misconduct.
The House could vote on the resolution as soon as Tuesday.
Mid-January to late January
The exact timing of the trial will depend on when the House moves the impeachment papers to the Senate.
The Senate would initially receive notification from the House that managers have been appointed, according to impeachment procedures adopted in 1986. The Senate would then adopt a resolution telling the House when it is ready to receive the managers to present the charges, known formally as articles of impeachment.
The House managers would then physically bring the articles of impeachment into the well of the Senate and present them. The Senate would inform the House when it is ready for the trial and organise for the proceedings.
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts would be sworn in to preside over the trial. Senators would be sworn in as jurors.
House managers would present their case against Trump, and the president’s legal team would respond, with senators sitting as jurors.
Senators would then be given time to submit questions to each side.
Senators could also vote on whether to dismiss the charges against Trump.
McConnell has said that, once the charges are formally submitted to the Senate, he will back a resolution that would set initial rules for the trial but postpone a decision on whether to hear from witnesses.
McConnell has not yet published a draft of the resolution but he said it would be “very similar” to one adopted in January 1999 during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.
That resolution set deadlines for the prosecution and defence to submit “trial briefs” that laid out their cases in writing. The resolution also allocated 24 hours for representatives of each side to make oral arguments and set aside 16 hours for senators to ask them questions.
The Clinton resolution referenced by McConnell did not resolve whether witnesses would be called. A follow-up resolution allowing for three witnesses to testify in videotaped depositions passed later along a party-line vote.
Late January to early February
It is still possible congressional Democrats will succeed in their push to hear from witnesses during the trial. If McConnell’s resolution on initial trial rules is adopted, as expected, senators would likely vote after the trial has started on whether to introduce witness testimony sought by the Democrats.
The Senate now has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who usually vote with the Democrats. That means four Republicans would need to cross party lines and join Democrats in requesting witness testimony.
Reporting by David Morgan, Jan Wolfe and Andy Sullivan; editing by Ross Colvin and Grant McCool
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