EXPLAINER: How Trump's second impeachment trial will work

In this Jan. 26, 2021, image from video, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Senate Television via AP) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial begins Tuesday, forcing the Senate to decide whether to convict him of incitement of insurrection after a violent mob of his supporters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

While Trump’s acquittal is expected, all 100 senators will first have to sit at their desks and listen to hours of graphic testimony from House Democrats about the riots, which left five people dead. The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13, one week after the violence.

A look at the basics of the upcoming impeachment trial:


The Constitution says the House has the sole power of impeachment while the Senate has the sole power to try the individual on the charges. The person being impeached — who can be the president, the vice president or any civil officer of the United States — can be convicted by two-thirds of the senators present.

The House appoints managers as prosecutors who set up on the Senate floor, along with the defendant’s lawyers, to present their case. The prosecutors and Trump's defense team will have a set amount of time to make arguments, and then senators can ask questions in writing before a final vote.

The chief justice of the United States normally presides over the trial of a president, but because Trump has left office, the presiding officer will be Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who is the ceremonial head of the Senate as the longest-serving member of the majority party.

Once the senators reach a final vote on the impeachment charge — this time there is just one, incitement of insurrection — each lawmaker will stand up and cast their vote: guilty or not guilty.