As the presiding judge, Roberts was first escorted into the Senate by four senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — and sworn in by Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican-Iowa), the most senior Republican member of the legislative chamber.
After a roll call, Roberts administered the oath to the senators who as jurors in the trial will decide whether the 45th president should be convicted and removed from office on two charges: abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.
“Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws; so help you God?” Roberts asked.
After responding, “I do,” each senator signed a book affirming their oath.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader from Kentucky, then adjourned the proceedings until 1 p.m. on January 21.
Trump is being sent a summons to appear in the makeshift courtroom of the Senate but is expected to be represented by two lawyers.
McConnell also set a January 18 deadline for members of the House of Representatives — acting as prosecutors in the trial — to file a trial brief with the secretary of the Senate.
The president can file his own trial brief by noon on January 20 and the House has until noon the following day to file a rebuttal.
Earlier in the day, Representative Adam Schiff (California-Democrat), who leads the team of seven trial managers from the House, opened the trial by reading the two articles of impeachment aloud in Senate.
Trump specifically is accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political foes, in particular, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a potential opponent in this year’s presidential election. Trump also allegedly withheld documents that the House requested during the fact-finding phase of the inquiry and prevented administration officials and agencies from providing testimony in the impeachment hearings.
Trump denies the charges and has called the impeachment proceedings a “sham,” “hoax,” and a “witch hunt.”
A conviction would require a two-thirds majority among the 100 senators, the majority of whom are Trump’s fellow Republican party members.