Law professor discusses next steps as Senate prepares for impeachment trial

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(KTXL) -- After the House of Representatives impeached the third sitting president in U.S. history Wednesday, the fate of Donald Trump’s presidency now moves to the Senate.

There leaders will decide whether or not to convict and remove him from office.

“It is clearly a trial for all of America," said University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law professor Leslie Jacobs.

Before the Senate hosts the trial, which could come as soon as January, a few steps must happen.

First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must appoint a group of impeachment managers who will build an impeachment case against the president. Behind the scenes, President Trump will be assembling a team to defend him.

To ensure things run smoothly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer could agree on a set of rules to govern the trial process.

“It would be nice if these folks agree beforehand, is that then there would be an orderly process that people could depend upon as opposed to stumbling along,” Jacobs told FOX40.

The UOP constitutional law professor said the Senate trial will resemble a courtroom where House managers will act as prosecutors. The president’s counsel will serve as defense attorneys and the country’s 100 Senators will take on the role of jurors tasked with casting the final judgment.

Sitting at the center of the Senate trial is Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who will more or less act as a moderator as the House managers and defense counsel present their arguments.

“He will be keeping order and making sure that both sides follow the rules,” Jacobs explained.

The Constitution states a two-thirds majority of Senators is required to remove a president from office — a difficult bar to reach given the 53-Senate Republican majority.

Many Republican Senators have already made public statements indicating they will acquit the president.

Still, Jacobs said the country is witnessing a historic moment and Wednesday’s House vote to impeach on both articles will leave a permanent stain on President Trump’s legacy.

“It will have an impact but we’ll have to see what that impact is," Jacobs said.

This will mark the third Senate trial ever in U.S. history, so a lot of the rules have not been formalized. That applies to the trial’s timeline. Jacobs said it could take two weeks or extend to several months.

McConnell has already said he does not wish to call any witnesses.

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