With a Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump still two weeks off, significant issues remain unresolved, according to Virginia Tech political expert Karen Hult.

Democrats are pushing ahead “to hold President Trump accountable for his words seeming to encourage the January 6 assault on the Capitol and for his phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State the previous weekend,” said Hult, a political science professor.

“House Democrats and others maintain that presenting the case publicly in the Senate both highlights the alleged unlawful behavior before a public audience and pushes Republican senators to publicly take stands on former President Trump’s actions,” she said.

Even so, the likelihood that enough Republicans vote to convict seems remote.

“Currently, this seems quite unlikely, particularly with the renewed efforts of some Republicans to criticize and support primary challenges to those who supported Trump’s impeachment or who openly challenged claims of a stolen or fraudulent election.”

There’s also the question of whether a former president can be impeached after he leaves office.

“Some maintain it would be unconstitutional to do so. Others fear a trial would do nothing other than exacerbate ongoing tensions.”

The Senate trial is set to get underway the week of February 8, with President pro tempore of the Senate, Patrick Leahy, expected to preside.

About Karen Hult

Virginia Tech political science professor Karen Hult serves on the advisory board to the White House Transition Project. She teaches political science at Virginia Tech and its Center for Public Administration & Policy, with expertise in the U.S. Presidency and organizational and institutional theory.

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To schedule an interview with Karen Hult, contact Shannon Andrea by email, or by phone at (703) 399-9494, or Bill Foy by email, or by phone at (540) 998-0288.

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