WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Congress opened the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Thursday, with House Democrats reading the formal charges from the well of the U.S. Senate, followed by senators being sworn in.
The seemingly solemn procession began with House Impeachment Managers making their way into the Senate Chamber. The House prosecutors read the charges against President Trump.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who is to preside at the trial, administered the oath to senators who will serve as jurors and swear to deliver “impartial justice.”
The senators were called in groups of four to be sworn in and sign the oath book.
The House impeached Trump for abuse of power, alleging he used military aid as leverage to force Ukraine's president to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's potential rival in the 2020 election. Trump was also charged with obstructing Congress' investigation by blocking documents and witnesses.
Thursday was mostly filled with housekeeping and ceremony. The seven impeachment managers who will present the prosecution -- all House Democrats -- went to the Senate around noon EST to formally present the articles. The managers delivered the articles Wednesday in a traditional, ceremonial procession.
The House managers are Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, and Reps. Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Val Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Sylvia Garcia of Texas.
Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, was sworn in by Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Roberts, in turn, swore in all 100 senators who will act as jurors.
The oath the senators took includes a vow to do "impartial justice." This notion came under scrutiny and doubt last month when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he had no intention of being impartial.
“I’m not an impartial juror,” he said, claiming the process is inherently political.
McConnell also said he is coordinating with White House counsel -- the lawyers who will defend Trump -- on how to proceed.
Arguments are expected to begin Tuesday. The trial will go six days a week with Sundays off, according to Senate rules. But the Senate can vote to change the rules.
Two-thirds of the senators are needed to find Trump guilty to convict him and remove him from office, but it's expected he won't get close to the 67 votes needed to convict. McConnell also stated as much last month.
But for most things related to the trial, only 51 votes are needed. That includes the calling of witnesses or potentially dismissing the trial altogether.
There are four Republican senators and four Democratic senators in particular to keep an eye on.
On the GOP side, they are Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. If all Democrats and independents vote in favor of witnesses, they need four Republicans to come over. These are the most likely ones.
On the Democratic side, the ones to watch are presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado. They are required to be at the trial, which means they will be taken off the campaign trail two weeks before the first primary votes are cast in the Iowa caucuses. Sanders and Warren are among the four front runners in the most recent Iowa polls. Klobuchar is trailing them and Bennet is barely registering in any state or national polls.