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Senators Sworn In For Impeachment Trial

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., (center) walks through the rotunda at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., (center) walks through the rotunda at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET

The Senate took some of its first steps on Thursday to prepare for next week's impeachment trial of President Trump, just the third such trial in Senate history.

Like many congressional activities, the process begins with much pomp and circumstance and procedure and process. But little of substance will be achieved until the case for impeachment is presented next week.

First though, there are some housekeeping measures, including the swearing-in ceremony. Chief Justice John Roberts, having crossed First Street from the Supreme Court building over to the Capitol, joined senators in the chamber and then was sworn in himself by Senate President pro tempore Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Roberts will preside over the trial.

Roberts then swore in the senators to act as jurors.

Earlier in the afternoon, the seven House managers named by Speaker Nancy Pelosigathered in the Senate chamber, where the lead manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., formally read the resolution appointing them and the two articles of impeachment approved by the House last month.

Watch that presentation.

Senate rules say the president still needs to be summoned and given a chance to respond. President Trump will be primarily represented by two attorneys, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, a private attorney who represented Trump in the Russia investigation.

But that is expected to be the extent of the "action" this week. Senators will likely head home for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, and the essence of the trial will get under way next Tuesday.

Senators may chafe at some of the conditions they'll have to deal with once that happens. They are expected to be seated at their desks and will have to refrain from talking to one another during the arguments.

They'll need to rise when Chief Justice Roberts enters and exits the chamber, and should votes occur, they'll have to stand then, too.

Perhaps most difficult of all, senators will be separated from their cellphones while in the chamber and must check them in their cloakrooms.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonese Franklin is the WFPL Program Director and host of All Things Considered. Email Jonese at jfranklin@lpm.org.