After nearly four months of investigation and negotiations, the impeachment of the president, Donald Trump, has finally begun in a climate of tension, with Republicans clinging to control of the process and Democrats frustrated by the obstacles of the conservative majority to offer more light on the case.
Here are the main protagonists of the historical moment.
Chief Justice John Roberts would rather be anywhere but the Senate, where he is acting as temporary head of this chamber, replacing Vice President Mike Pence, for the duration of the process.
In his 15 years at the nation’s highest court, he has forged an image for himself as an impartial arbitrator.
His first speech, on Tuesday, at the political trial was to demand good behaviour and respect from the parties, and to recall the solemnity of the occasion.
“I think it is appropriate at this point that I reprimand both the prosecutors of the House and the advisors to the president in the same terms so that they remember that they are addressing the main collegiate body of the world,” he said as the first session closed early in the morning.
Democratic lawmakers Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler are the two most prominent figures in the team of seven “prosecutors”, elected by the lower house, in the Senate impeachment trial of the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“Either they want the truth and then they should allow witnesses or they want a shameful cover-up. History will judge them and so will the electorate,” Nadler said in one of the more aggressive exchanges with White House lawyers.
Shortly before the second session of the trial began on Wednesday, Schiff insisted that the prosecution had “overwhelming” arguments for removing Trump and promised to offer “extensive detail about what happened and how we know what happened.
THE DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, two experienced, TV-based lawyers, are leading the defense of the White House.
Cipollone has warned that “all this is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should quickly and categorically condemn.
Sekulow, a longtime personal attorney for Trump, was at the center of one of the controversies on the first day of the impeachment when he misunderstood a member of the “prosecutorial” team, Val Demings, who spoke of “FOIA lawsuits,” but understood “lawyer lawsuits.
“Lawsuits?” -We’re talking about an impeachment of the duly elected president of the United States, and the members, the prosecutors, are complaining about lawyer lawsuits?
THE GUEST STARS OF TRUMP
Attorneys Kenneth Starr and Robert Ray, who in the 1990s gained attention for their role as special, independent prosecutors who succeeded in putting then-President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) on the ropes in a similar impeachment process, have joined Trump’s defense.
There is also Alan Dershowitz, a controversial retired Harvard professor of constitutional law whose former clients include former football star OJ Simpson and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who died in strange circumstances in his cell while awaiting trial for pedophilia.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate and one of the most skilled and experienced politicians in Congress, is the one who has designed the tight schedule and rules of the process, all with the goal of harming Trump as little as possible.
“I have no choice but to allow [the impeachment to occur], but I expect it to be fairly short-lived, and I will maintain full coordination with the White House and those who represent the president,” McConnell said before the process began without fear of confessing bias.
Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate and as longtime McConnell, is in charge of stirred up the Republicans and pushing to accept documents and call additional witnesses.
Schumer has called the Republicans’ proposed plan “a national disgrace” and criticized Trump’s team for “being unprepared, confused and unconvincing” on the first day.