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US Senate declares in vote that Trump impeachment trial is constitutional

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Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, in Washington.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, in Washington.   -   Copyright  Senate Television via AP
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The US Senate voted that the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is constitutional.

The vote was 56-44 with six Republican Senators joining Democrats to determine the trial can move forward even though Trump has left office, US media reported.

The trial began in the Senate with a jarring video of the Capitol insurrection that took place on January 6.

The video showed the mob storming the Capitol and overtaking police after Trump called on supporters to "fight like hell" to take back the election which he falsely claimed that he had won.

Protesters were shown breaking down doors and breaching the Capitol while chanting "stop the steal" as Senators and Representatives were inside certifying the election results.

The video showed the moment a Capitol police officer fired his gun towards a crowd trying to break into the chamber.

The House's lead impeachment manager Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin said that what the video showed was "a high crime and misdemeanour.”

“If that's not an impeachable offence, then there's no such thing," Raskin said.

Trump is the first president to be impeached twice and the first to be tried in the Senate after leaving office. He is likely to be acquitted because it's unlikely that 67 Senators will vote to convict.

Democrats say that if convicted, they could vote to prevent the former president from ever running for public office again.

Trump's lawyers say he is not guilty of the sole charge of "incitement of insurrection" and have said the trial is not constitutional since he is no longer in office.

David Schoen, a lawyer for Trump, said that the trial will "tear this country apart". He said that Democrats are fuelled by a “hatred” of Trump and fear that they will lose power.

The trial is starting with debate over whether it is constitutional to hold the trial after Trump has left office.

At one pivotal point on Tuesday, Raskin told the personal story of bringing his family to the Capitol the day of the riot, to witness the certification of the Electoral College vote, only to have his daughter and son-in-law hiding in an office, fearing for their lives.

“Senators, this cannot be our future,” Raskin said through tears. “This cannot be the future of America.”

Presiding over the trial is Senator Patrick Leahy, the chamber’s senior-most member of the majority party, instead of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Trump's second impeachment trial is expected to diverge from his first trial which was lengthy. He had been charged with pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political opponent, current President Joe Biden.

Listen to our report by clicking on the media player above.