Prosecutors seeking to impeach Donald Trump for a historic second time on Tuesday invoked the trial of Warren Hastings, the first British Governor-General of India, by the House of Lords in the 18th century after he had left office, to rebut the former US president’s stand that the trial by the Senate was unconstitutional as he was no longer in power.
The US Senate on Tuesday confirmed the constitutionality of Trump’s impeachment trial by 56-44 votes following presentation from both sides — House impeachment managers and lawyers representing the former president — paving the way for the historic impeachment trial of the 45th President of the United States who left office on January 20.
Trump, 74, is accused of inciting the January 6 Capitol Hill riots, threatening democracy in the country. The incident left five people dead, including a police official.
From Wednesday onwards, each of the two sides — the House impeachment managers and Trump lawyers — would have up to 16 hours to present their case before the 100-member Senate for them to vote on the impeachment of Trump days later.
Both the Republicans and the Democrats have 50 members each. To impeach Trump, the Senate needs to vote the House impeachment motion by 67 votes.
Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin, who is also a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, while defending the constitutionality of the trial said, “our case is based on cold, hard facts. It’s all about the facts. President Trump has sent his lawyers here today to try to stop the Senate from hearing the facts of this case. They want to call the trial over before any evidence is even introduced.”
“The first point comes from English history. And it would have been immediately obvious to anyone familiar with that history that former officials could be held accountable for their abuses while in office,” according to the transcript of Raskin’s speech in the Senate.
“It was the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the former Governor-General of the British colony of Bengal, and a corrupt guy,” he said.
Raskin said that the framers of the US constitution knew all about it, and they strongly supported the impeachment.
“It played a key role in their adoption of the high crimes and misdemeanours standard. Even though everyone there surely knew that Hastings had left office two years before his impeachment trial began, not a single framer, not one raised a concern when Virginia and George Mason held up the Hastings impeachment as a model for us in the writing of our Constitution,” he said.
Hastings was the first Governor-Generals of Bengal from 1772-1774 and the first de facto Governor-General of India from 1774-1785.
His impeachment proceedings were initiated in 1786 after he went back to England for alleged mismanagement, mistreatment of natives, and personal corruption while in India. The trial began in 1788.
However, he was acquitted in the trial in 1795, according to various reports.
Trump is the first president in the American history to be impeached twice. He is also the first president ever to have faced impeachment trial after he left the office of presidency.
Countering the mention of Hastings during the debate, Trump’s lead lawyer Bruce Castor said, “If we’re really going to use pre-Revolutionary history in Great Britain, then the precedent is we have a parliament and we have a king. Is that the precedent that we are headed for?”
“This trial is not about trading liberty for security. It’s about suggesting that it is a good idea that we give up those liberties that we have so long fought for,” he was quoted as saying by The Philadelphia Inquirer.