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Trump impeachment process: Who are the key players?


Jamie Raskin speaks to members of the media after he came out from the office of Speaker of the House

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image captionDemocrats, including Jamie Raskin (centre), are planning to impeach President Donald Trump in a vote on Wednesday

The US House of Representatives is poised to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time over his alleged role in last week’s deadly assault on the Capitol.

A vote on impeaching Mr Trump is expected to be held on Wednesday afternoon.

Democrats have led the effort to charge Mr Trump with incitement for encouraging the riots in Congress.

But a growing number of Republicans have also backed calls for impeachment.

So, who are these key players, and what do we know about them?

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  • Can Trump be removed or banned from politics?
  • How many arrests so far from Capitol riots?

Jamie Raskin, lead impeachment manager for the Democrats

In the likely event that the Democrats end up arguing for impeachment in a Senate trial, their case will be made by a team of lawmakers who will act as the prosecutors.

Mr Raskin, a Democratic representative from Maryland since 2017 and a former constitutional law professor, will lead that team.

The impeachment of Mr Trump represents the continuation of an extremely challenging start to 2021 for Mr Raskin, 58.

image copyrightReuters
image captionJamie Raskin (left) helped to draft the article of impeachment against President Trump

The congressman’s 25-year-old son, Tommy Bloom Raskin, took his own life on New Year’s Eve and was laid to rest last week.

A day after the funeral, Mr Raskin found himself hunkering down with colleagues, shielding from a violent mob that rampaged through the Capitol where lawmakers were meeting to certify November’s presidential election result.

On the day of the assault, Mr Raskin helped to draw up an article of impeachment against President Trump.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Mr Raskin said his son, who was studying law at Harvard University, would have considered last week’s violence “the absolute worst form of crime against democracy”.

“It really is Tommy Raskin, and his love and his values and his passion, that have kept me going,” Mr Raskin said.

Madeleine Dean, a Democratic impeachment manager

Including Mr Raskin, nine Democrats have been named as impeachment managers in total. One of those is House Representative for Pennsylvania Madeleine Dean, one of three women on the team.

Ms Dean started her career in law, opening her own three-woman practice in Pennsylvania before teaching English at a university.

Having been active in state politics for decades, she was elected to the House in 2018, using her seat to champion women’s reproductive rights, gun reform and healthcare for all, among other issues.

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image captionMadeleine Dean has called for a quick trial of President Trump in the Senate

In an interview with MSNBC, Ms Dean, 68, said she favoured a “speedy trial” in the Senate if Mr Trump was impeached.

“This isn’t about a party. This isn’t about politics. This is about protection of our constitution, of our rule of law,” Ms Dean said.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House

image copyrightEPA
image captionNancy Pelosi has called President Trump “deranged, unhinged and dangerous”

As the Speaker of the House, Ms Pelosi has been in the spotlight since last week’s riots in the Capitol.

Ms Pelosi leads the Democrats in the lower chamber of Congress, so the 80-year-old had a huge influence over the decision to introduce an article of impeachment against Mr Trump.

Ms Pelosi said the House would proceed with legislation to impeach Mr Trump unless Vice-President Mike Pence invoked constitutional powers to force him out. Mr Pence did not do so, saying he believed such a move was against the country’s interests.

“This president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that,” Ms Pelosi said.

media captionThe storming of the US Capitol

Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate majority leader

Mr McConnell, a 78-year-old Republican senator for Kentucky, could have the biggest influence on the outcome of these impeachment proceedings.

He leads Republicans in the Senate – the upper chamber of Congress – and was a thorn in the side of former Democratic President Barack Obama, often manoeuvring to frustrate his legislative agenda and judicial appointments. Hence, he is known as “the Grim Reaper” among Democrats.

If the House of Representatives votes to impeach Mr Trump – as it is expected to do – the case will then head to the Senate, where a trial will be held to determine the president’s guilt.

As Republicans have a majority in the Senate, Mr McConnell will have a decisive impact on when and how the trial proceeds.

Mr McConnell was the driving force behind Mr Trump’s acquittal in his first impeachment trial in 2019.

image copyrightEPA
image captionMitch McConnell had been loyal to President Trump until the Capitol riots

According to the New York Times, Mr McConnell has now concluded that President Trump committed impeachable offences. He believes it is time to purge Mr Trump from the Republican party, the paper reported, citing sources close to him.

For a trial to be held before Mr Trump leaves office on 20 January, Mr McConnell must agree to recall the Senate, which is currently in recess.

One of Mr McConnell’s aides has suggested that the soonest the Senate could take up any articles of impeachment from the House would be 19 January.

Nonetheless, Mr Trump may now also have cause to fear “the Grim Reaper”.

Liz Cheney, Republican House Representative for Wyoming

Ms Cheney, 54, is third-highest-ranking Republican leader in the House. As the daughter of former Republican Vice-President Dick Cheney, she has a high profile in the party.

So, her support of the impeachment is particularly significant.

image copyrightReuters
image captionLiz Cheney has accused President Trump of inciting the attack on Congress

Mr Trump had “summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack”, Ms Cheney said of the Capitol riots.

“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” the Wyoming representative said.

Not all Republicans in the House and Senate will agree with her – but some could well be swayed.

Ben Sasse, Republican Senator for Nebraska

Blocking Mr Trump from ever running for office again is one rationale that may motivate some Republicans to impeach the president.

That reasoning could be attractive to Republican senators like Mr Sasse, who is seen as a possible contender for the presidency in 2024.

Elected to the Senate in 2014, the 48-year-old has been an ardent critic of Mr Trump.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionBen Sasse refused to overturn the results of November’s presidential election in Congress

Mr Sasse was firmly opposed to a Republican effort – cheered on by Mr Trump – to overturn the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory in Congress.

On the question of impeachment, Mr Sasse said he would “definitely consider whatever articles they might move” in the House.

A two-thirds majority would be needed to convict Mr Trump in the Senate, meaning at least 17 Republicans – including Mr Sasse – would have to vote for it.

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