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Trump impeachment process: Who are the key players?

·6-min read
Jamie Raskin speaks to members of the media after he came out from the office of Speaker of the House
Democrats, including Jamie Raskin (centre), voted to impeach President Donald Trump, as did 10 Republicans

The US House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time over his alleged role in last week's deadly assault on the Capitol.

His impeachment for "incitement to insurrection" was approved by 232 representatives including 10 Republicans.

Democrats led the effort to charge Mr Trump with encouraging the riots.

But a growing number of Republicans had backed calls for impeachment.

So, who are these key players, and what do we know about them?

Short presentational grey line
Short presentational grey line

Jamie Raskin, lead impeachment manager for the Democrats

When the impeachment charges go to the Senate for trial, the case for the prosecution will be made by a team of lawmakers, led by Mr Raskin, a Democratic representative from Maryland since 2017 and a former professor of constitutional law.

The impeachment of Mr Trump represents the continuation of an extremely challenging start to 2021 for Mr Raskin, 58.

Jamie Raskin and Liz Cheney in the US Capitol
Jamie Raskin (left) helped to draft the article of impeachment against President Trump

The congressman's 25-year-old son, Tommy Bloom Raskin, took his own life on New Year's Eve and was laid to rest last week.

A day after the funeral, Mr Raskin found himself hunkering down with colleagues, shielding from a violent mob that rampaged through the Capitol where lawmakers were meeting to certify November's presidential election result.

On the day of the assault, Mr Raskin helped to draw up an article of impeachment against President Trump.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Mr Raskin said his son, who was studying law at Harvard University, would have considered last week's violence "the absolute worst form of crime against democracy".

"It really is Tommy Raskin, and his love and his values and his passion, that have kept me going," Mr Raskin said.

Madeleine Dean, Democratic impeachment manager

In total, nine Democrats, including Mr Raskin, have been named as impeachment managers. One is Representative Madeleine Dean, from Pennsylvania, who is one of three women on the team.

Ms Dean started her career in law, opening her own three-woman practice in Pennsylvania before teaching English at a university.

Having been active in state politics for decades, she was elected to the House in 2018, using her seat to champion women's reproductive rights, gun law reform, and healthcare for all, among other issues.

Democratic Representative Madeleine Dean
Madeleine Dean has called for a quick trial of President Trump in the Senate

In an interview with MSNBC, Ms Dean, 68, said she favoured a "speedy trial" in the Senate if Mr Trump was impeached.

"This isn't about a party. This isn't about politics. This is about protection of our constitution, of our rule of law," Ms Dean said.

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walks to her office from the House floor
Nancy Pelosi has called President Trump "deranged, unhinged and dangerous"

As the Speaker of the House, Ms Pelosi has been in the spotlight since last week's riots in the Capitol.

Ms Pelosi leads the Democrats in the lower chamber of Congress, so the 80-year-old had a huge influence over the decision to introduce an article of impeachment against Mr Trump.

Ms Pelosi had said the House would proceed with impeachment unless Vice-President Mike Pence invoked constitutional powers to force out Mr Trump. Mr Pence did not do so, saying he believed such a move was against the country's interests.

"This president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that," Ms Pelosi said.

Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate majority leader

Mr McConnell, a 78-year-old Republican senator for Kentucky, could have the biggest influence on the final outcome.

He leads the Republicans in the Senate - the upper chamber of Congress - and was a thorn in the side of former Democratic President Barack Obama, often manoeuvring to frustrate his legislative agenda and judicial appointments. Hence, he is known as "the Grim Reaper" among Democrats.

Now that the House of Representatives has voted to impeach Mr Trump, the case will head to the Senate, where a trial will be held to determine the president's guilt.

As Republicans still have a majority in the Senate, Mr McConnell will have an impact, for now, on when the trial proceeds.

But control of the Senate soon switches to the Democrats following last week's election of two Democratic senators in Georgia. They are thought likely to take up their seats next week.

Mr McConnell was the driving force behind Mr Trump's acquittal in his first impeachment trial in 2019.

But times have changed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell had been loyal to President Trump until the Capitol riots

According to the New York Times, Mr McConnell has now concluded that President Trump committed impeachable offences. He believes it is time to purge Mr Trump from the Republican party, the paper reported, citing sources close to him.

For a trial to be held before Mr Trump leaves office on 20 January, Mr McConnell must agree to recall the Senate, which is currently in recess.

But Mr McConnell's office has said he will not reconvene the Senate until 19 January - too late to try Mr Trump while he is still president.

Liz Cheney, Republican House Representative for Wyoming

Ms Cheney, 54, is third-highest-ranking Republican leader in the House. As the daughter of former Republican Vice-President Dick Cheney, she has a high profile in the party.

So, her support for impeachment is particularly significant.

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney
Liz Cheney has accused President Trump of inciting the attack on Congress

Mr Trump had "summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack", Ms Cheney said of the Capitol riots.

"There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution," the Wyoming representative said.

Ben Sasse, Republican Senator for Nebraska

Blocking Mr Trump from ever running for office again is one rationale that may motivate some Republicans to impeach the president.

That reasoning could be attractive to Republican senators like Mr Sasse, who is seen as a possible contender for the presidency in 2024.

Elected to the Senate in 2014, the 48-year-old has been an ardent critic of Mr Trump.

Ben Sasse
Ben Sasse refused to overturn the results of November's presidential election in Congress

Mr Sasse was firmly opposed to a Republican effort - cheered on by Mr Trump - to overturn the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's election victory in Congress.

On the question of impeachment, Mr Sasse said he would "definitely consider whatever articles they might move" in the House.

A two-thirds majority would be needed to convict Mr Trump in the Senate, meaning at least 17 Republicans - including Mr Sasse - would have to vote for it.