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The Senate impeachment trial simplified: What you need to know explained


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The Senate impeachment trial simplified: What you need to know explained

All eyes will be on the United States Senate on Tuesday as it resumes just the third impeachment trial in the nation’s history, considering two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump. In the historic lead-up, Capitol Hill has morphed into a ceremonial display, with solemn tradition — and a lot of scripted jargon…

The Senate impeachment trial simplified: What you need to know explained

All eyes will be on the United States Senate on Tuesday as it resumes just the third impeachment trial in the nation’s history, considering two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.

In the historic lead-up, Capitol Hill has morphed into a ceremonial display, with solemn tradition — and a lot of scripted jargon and unfamiliar terms.

Here’s the lawmaker’s vernacular, simplified.

House ‘managers’

The House managers will essentially be the «prosecutors» during the Senate trial. They will argue for Trump’s removal from office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named the seven House impeachment managers on Wednesday — who she said would bring their experience as litigators and investigators to make the Democrats’ case.

The managers are Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Rep. Val emings, D-Fla., Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., and Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas.

‘Sergeant at Arms’

The Sergeant at Arms will be seen throughout the proceedings. As the current Sergeant at Arms, Michael Stenger will enforce the Senate’s rules of decorum and tradition. He walked with the House managers on Thursday as they formally delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

He also escorted Chief Justice John Roberts — who will act as presiding officer — to the Senate.

He will likely be heard announcing: ‘Hear ye! Hear ye!» Hear ye!» All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment» at the start of each session.

The ‘walk’

The «walk» is a Senate impeachment trial tradition, when after the articles of impeachment are signed by the House Speaker, they are hand delivered to the Senate floor by the House managers.

The managers completed the «walk» from the House to the Senate chamber on Wednesday, led by the House Clerk and the Senate Sergeant at Arms.

Articles of Impeachment ‘exhibited’

Schiff, on behalf of the House managers, «exhibited» the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor on Thursday. Or, in layman’s terms, he read the two allegations aloud: Article One, which alleges abuse of power, and Article Two, which charges obstruction of Congress.

Presiding officer

The presiding officer in this impeachment trial is, as spelled out in the Constitution, the Chief Justice of the United States, or in this case, Roberts.

The presiding officer sits in place of the vice president — currently Mike Pence — to avoid any a conflict of interest.

‘Impartial jurors’

The jurors for impeachment trials are the 100 members of the U.S. Senate. Senators take an oath, administered by the Chief Justice, to be «impartial,» meaning they will put partisanship aside and consider only the facts at hand. In Trump’s case, only 99 senators took the oath — as Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe wasn’t present on Thursday.

After the senators take this oath, they walk over to the «well» of the Senate — jargon for the area in front of the dais — to sign the «oath book.»

Parliamentarian

The Senate Parliamentarian is essentially the main adviser to the Chief Justice on how to carry out the rules and traditions of the trial. Elizabeth MacDonough will fill this role, and during the trial will sit on the Senate dais near Roberts so she can quietly confer with him.

‘Writ of Summons’

As an impeachment trial begins, the Senate delivers a «writ of summons» to the president that outlines the articles — or charges— against him. The summons sets a deadline for the president to respond to the charges – which for President Trump is Saturday by 6 p.m.

There are several rules of decorum that are worth noting.

When the Chief Justice arrives on the Senate floor each day, the senators are expected to «silently rise» and remain standing until he takes his seat on the dais. They must do the same when he leaves the chamber.

As the Sergeant at Arms announces senators are «to keep silent on pain of imprisonment…,» fear not, there is no threat of being thrown into the «Capitol dungeon.» Instead, Roberts will order any disruptive senators to keep quiet or have the Sergeant at Arms escort the member out of the chamber.

Senators are not only restricted from speaking in the chamber when the trial is underway, they also are not allowed to have any reading material on them that’s not related to the impeachment trial — books and magazines, for example, are prohibited.

Cell phones are also not allowed on the Senate floor during the proceedings.

That being said, «Senate pages,» or high-school students who act as messengers, will deliver messages from inside and outside the chamber.

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The impeachment trial — likely to take up most of next week — will rock more than the White House and Capitol Hill though. It has also scrambled the Democratic presidential primary, forcing the four senators in the race to overhaul their campaign schedules, even as the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary get closer.

ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel, Anne Flaherty and Michelle Stoddart contributed to this report.

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