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CRS – The Impeachment Process in the Senate – The Impeachment Process in the Senate. January 21, 2020. R46185: “After the House impeaches a federal officer, the Senate conducts a trial to determine if the individual should be removed from office. The Senate has a set of rules specific to the conduct of an impeachment trial, most of which originated in the early 19th century. The impeachment rules lay out specific steps that the Senate takes to organize for a trial. House managers (Members of the House who present the case against the impeached officer in the Senate) read the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor. The Presiding Officer and Senators take an oath to do impartial justice, and the Senate issues a “summons” to the accused and requests that a written answer be filed. The House Managers are also invited to respond to the answer of the impeached officer.

Actions after these organizing steps, however, are not specified in the impeachment rules. The impeachment rules mention some actions that are common in judicial trials, such as opening and closing statements by the parties to the case and the examination of witnesses, but provide little specific guidance. Instead, the rules allow the Senate, when sitting for a trial, to set particular procedures through the approval of “orders.” Some orders of the Senate are unanimous consent agreements, but others are proposals adopted by the Senate. If such a proposal is considered while the Senate is sitting for the trial, then debate is limited by the impeachment rules. As a result, the support of three-fifths of the Senate to invoke cloture is not necessary to reach a vote to approve a procedural proposal. In previous trials, such proposals have been subject to amendment. Senate published precedents do not provide guidance on what can or cannot be included in such an order…”

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