The US Senate is set to launch the impeachment trial against former president Donald Trump on Wednesday.
The Senate will consider the charge that Mr Trump‘s fighting words to protesters at a rally, as well as weeks of falsely claiming the presidential election was stolen and rigged, provoked a mob to storm the Capitol. Five people died as a result of the riot, including a police officer.
So how will Mr Trump‘s impeachment trial play out, who will testify, and how will it end? Here are five quick questions and answers, starting with the important basics.
1. Why are we here?
On January 6, then-president Donald Trump spoke at a “Save America” rally held near the White House, where he repeated his claim the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him.
The President told the crowd to march to the Capitol building in Washington, DC, saying, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” and, “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
The rioters broke into the Capitol, attacked police, shouted threats to representatives, smashed windows, knocked down doors and stole property.
Democrats and many Republicans saw Mr Trump‘s rally speech as encouragement for the attack and, on January 13, the US House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach Mr Trump, formally charging him with incitement of insurrection.
Mr Trump‘s re-election campaign, however, said it did not “organise, operate or finance” the Save America rally.
2. What is impeachment?
Impeachment is where the US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress, brings charges that a president has engaged in a “high crime or misdemeanour” — similar to an indictment in a criminal case.
If a simple majority of the House’s 435 members approves bringing charges, known as “articles of impeachment”, the process moves to the Senate, the upper chamber, which has a trial.
The constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict and remove a president.
No court has yet definitively ruled on whether a president can be impeached after they have left office but, because Mr Trump is no longer in power, a conviction would disqualify him from holding public office in the future.
3. How long will the impeachment trial take?
Mr Trump is the first president in US history to be impeached twice.
His first trial spanned nearly three weeks. This time, however, Democrats and Republicans say they hope to resolve the trial quickly, with some Democrats saying they expect it to only take a week.
“I don’t think it needs to last more than a week … a couple of days for each side would be sufficient,” Democratic senator Chris Murphy told The Hill.
Similarly, Republican senator Kevin Cramer said: “I just can’t imagine that it’s going to go beyond a week … I don’t think there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this thing from anybody.”
In any case, the Senate is not scheduled to be in session during the week of February 15, which could affect the timeframe.
Meanwhile, Mr Biden will be trying to win approval for his nominees in the Senate and trying to push a $US1.9 trillion ($2.48 trillion) coronavirus economic relief package through Congress.
4. Who will testify? Does Trump have to be there?
No, Mr Trump doesn’t have to be there.
Democrats requested Mr Trump testify at his impeachment trial, but the idea was quickly shot down by his legal team which called the invitation a “public relations stunt”.
Democratic representative Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, wrote a letter to Mr Trump and his attorney inviting the former president to provide testimony under oath.
“If you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021,” Mr Raskin wrote.
In reply, Mr Trump‘s adviser Jason Miller said: “The president will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding.”
But the so-called QAnon shaman who took part in the Capitol riots sporting face paint and a horned hat has indicated he is willing to testify.
Jacob Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, said he hadn’t spoken to any members of the Senate since announcing his offer, but it was important for senators to hear the voice of someone who was incited by Mr Trump.
Mr Watkins said his client was previously “horrendously smitten” by Mr Trump, but now felt let down by the former president’s refusal to grant him and others who participated in the insurrection a pardon.
The words of Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the riot may end up being used against the former president during the impeachment trial. Mr Chansley and at least four other people who are facing federal charges stemming from the riot have suggested they were taking orders from Mr Trump.
But ultimately, the trial may call no witnesses at all.
As Politico reports, Senate Democrats say their experience as witnesses is enough.
“This is based on a public crime,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said.
“His (Mr Trump‘s) intent was unhidden and so I think there’s a danger, as there always is for a trial lawyer and prosecutor, to over-try, to add more witnesses that prove the obvious,” the Senator said.
5. How will the trial end?
A two-thirds majority of the 100-member Senate needs to support the charge to convict Mr Trump of incitement of insurrection.
The trial needs at least 67 votes for conviction, otherwise Mr Trump will be acquitted.
At party level, this means 17 Republicans need to join all 50 Democrats in voting to convict, and that looks unlikely.
While several Republican senators have denounced the violence at the Capitol and pointed the finger of blame at Mr Trump, they’ve shown little political appetite to take further action now Mr Trump is no longer president.
“It’s not a question of how the trial ends, it’s a question of when it ends,” Senator Graham said, adding the outcome was “really not in doubt”.