President Donald Trumpís historic impeachment trial begins in earnest Tuesday in the Senate, with Democrats calling for his removal from office and Republicans determined to acquit him -- and quickly, if possible.
Four months after the Ukraine scandal exploded and went on to overshadow the end of Trumpís term, and 10 months before Americans go to the polls to decide whether to re-elect him, the 100 members of the Senate will gather at 1 PM (1800 GMT) with chief justice John Roberts presiding over the trial.
The job of these lawmakers, sworn in last week as jurors, is to decide if Trump abused his office and obstructed Congress as charged in two articles of impeachment approved last month by the House of Representatives.
Part of the scandal centers on a July 25 telephone call in which Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, Trumpís potential opponent in the November vote.
Democrats, who control the House of Representatives and led the investigation, accuse Trump of manipulating Ukraine by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid for its war against Russian-backed separatists and a White House meeting for Zelensky until the latter announced a Biden probe.
"President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing our national security, the integrity of our elections, and our democracy," the House managers said Saturday in a memorandum.
They said the presidentís behavior "is the Framersí worst nightmare," referring to the authors of the US Constitution, and that Trump deserves to be removed from office.
But Trump looks almost certain to be acquitted because of the 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate.
He will be abroad as his trial opens; Trump left late Monday for the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The first order of business Tuesday will be to set the rules, such as how long they will hear the arguments of the House managers, or prosecutors, and whether they will call witnesses or seek other evidence.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell late Monday proposed rules calling for each side to have 24 hours over two days to present their arguments. The chamber will debate and vote on the proposed rules Tuesday.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said McConnell is rushing the trial and also making it harder for witnesses and documents to be presented.
The Democrats want key Trump administration officials to testify, such as former national security adviser John Bolton, in the belief that they know a lot about Trumpís dealings with Ukraine. Bolton has said he is willing to testify if subpoenaed.
The White House has said it expects the trial to be over in two weeks.