Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Impeachment Trial Redux

This afternoon marks the start of the second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, a first in U.S. history. Trump was previously impeached last year by the House but acquitted in the Senate for abuse of power and obstruction charges, in connection with the Robert Mueller investigation of Russian election interference. The 2021 articles of impeachment are focused on Trump's role in inciting the deadly events of January 6, in which supporters of the 45th President stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress formalized the 2020 election results. If convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, he could then be barred from holding federal office in the future (by a simple majority).

The House of Representatives voted to impeach on January 13, and delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate for trial on January 25. As NPR outlines, the first day of the trial will contain arguments on the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial for a former president. (Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had planned to hold the 2021 trial after Biden's inauguration, according to a memo circulated before the House vote.)

The Law School community can keep up with the impeachment trial proceedings with the Washington Post, available full-text to current Duke Law members through this proxy link. A helpful free source for impeachment information is Ballotpedia, which maintains a timeline of the 2021 trial, the legal issues, and links to relevant documents. It also includes brief descriptions of the other three presidents who have been impeached in history: Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton.

You can learn more about the history of presidential impeachment in the United States with HeinOnline's U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library, which debuted during the first Trump impeachment and currently covers up to the conclusion of that trial. The library contains government documents and books from each trial, providing both primary and secondary source views of presidential impeachment. Hein's library will undoubtedly be updated for the second Trump impeachment at the conclusion of the Senate trial.

If you have questions about accessing these resources or on other sources for presidential or congressional information, be sure to Ask a Librarian.