US senators to be sworn in for Trump impeachment trial

Amid bitter partisan divisions, US senators are to be sworn in as jurors Thursday for the historic impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, threatened with removal from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will deliver the oath to the 100 senators and preside over just the third impeachment trial of a chief executive in US history.

The solemn proceedings will begin at noon (1700 GMT) when the members of the House of Representatives who will serve as prosecutors read out the two articles of impeachment against Trump.

Roberts, 64, who was appointed chief justice by president George W. Bush, will be sworn in at 2:00 pm (1900 GMT) to preside over the trial and deliver the oath to senators.

The proceedings will then adjourn and the trial will get underway “in earnest” on Tuesday, according to Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.

Impeachment rules require a two-thirds Senate majority to convict and remove a president and Trump’s acquittal is widely expected in the Republican-dominated Senate.

Trump is accused of abuse of power for withholding military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting for the country’s president in exchange for an investigation into his potential presidential election rival Democrat Joe Biden.

The Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released Thursday that the White House violated federal law by putting a hold on the congressionally-approved funds for Ukraine.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” according to the GAO, a congressional watchdog.

The second article of impeachment — for obstruction of Congress — relates to Trump’s refusal to provide witnesses and documents to House impeachment investigators in defiance of congressional subpoenas.

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