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The second Senate trial of former President Donald Trump begins today as senators meet to listen to up to four hours of debate between House impeachment managers and Trump's defence team over whether the trial is constitutional. There have been questions raised over its constitutionality given that Trump is a private citizen now rather than a sitting president.
- Given that Trump is a private citizen, Senate rules no longer require Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts to preside over the session. Instead, Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-VT) - the longest-serving senator from the majority party - is set to preside over the trial.
- A simple majority vote is required for the trial to be deemed constitutional. This threshold is likely to be reached with all Senate Democrats likely to vote in favour of the trial going ahead and the potential for five GOP senators to also vote for the trial's constitutionality.
- In January, 45 of the 50 Republican US Senators voted for a point of order from Rand Paul (R-KY) that argued the trial was unconstitutional given that Trump was no longer the sitting president. The five that sided with the Democrats were: Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Mitt Romney of Utah; Ben Sasse of Nebraska; and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Should all GOP senators vote against the trial being constitutional, leading to a 50-50 split, VP Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote to ensure the trial goes ahead.
- This would allow the oral arguments from each side to get underway in earnest tomorrow (Wed 10 Feb).