The impeachment of United States President, Donald Trump, by the House of Representatives on Wednesday may be a dark spot on his presidency but it does not mean his removal from office.
The decision to remove him from office now lies in the hands of the US Senate, which will consider the issue during a trial in January.
Unlike in the House of Representatives, where a simple majority vote was needed to impeach the president, two thirds of senators will need to vote to remove Trump from office.
That means 67 out of the 100 senators will need to support the move. Given that there are only 47 Democrats and independents in the senate, 20 Republicans, who are members of Trump’s political party would have to support the removal, which looks very unlikely.
The trial itself, which has only ever happened for two former US presidents, will be a time of epic political battle with major consequence on the 2020 presidential election.
The Supreme Court’s Chief Judge, John Roberts, who was nominated by Republican president, George Bush, will sit as the judge for the trial.
The 100 senators will act as the jury, watching on silently as the case for and against convicting Trump of the two articles of impeachment is put to them.
Among them will be five senators competing for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination namely Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet.
Making the case for impeachment will be a team of Democratic congressmen picked by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, while defending the president will be his lawyers.
How the trial will play out; the length; which witnesses are called; what rules of debate are set is up for grabs, with few hard and fast parameters set by the US Constitution.
But Trump has one advantage here; it is the Republicans who hold the majority in the Senate and they are the ones that will set rules for the trial, provided the Republican senators go along with the party leadership.
The president was said to have initially favoured a lengthy trial where his supporters would lay out his defence and it was hoped that it would convince a lot of people in the country.
Some Republicans had lobbied for Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, the two men who Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate, to give evidence.
Democrats have also been lobbying publicly for their own witnesses, including figures central to the Ukraine scandal, who have not yet given evidence such as Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff and John Bolton, his former National Security Adviser.
However, it seems the Republican senators, led by Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, favour a short trial of around two weeks with no witnesses.
That would be shorter than that of the two former US presidents to have been impeached, Andrew Johnson, who had a 10-week trial; and Bill Clinton, whose trial lasted five weeks.
Neither Johnson nor Clinton appeared at their trial to give evidence in person, a precedent Trump is expected to follow.
He will also be hoping for the same result. Neither Johnson, who had replaced Abraham Lincoln after his assassination nor Clinton, a Democrat, were removed from office. Johnson survived by one vote.
Not one of the 53 Republican senators has publicly said they will support removal. Some of those who have remained neutral in public, such as Utah Senator and former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, have been hosted in the White House in recent weeks.
According to a poll run by the political webiste, 538, the country is split down the middle on impeaching and removing Trump. Around 47 percent of Americans support the move and the same number also oppose it, with the rest having no opinion.
However opposition to impeachment among Republican voters is fierce, with nine in 10 against removing Trump in some polls.
That suggests Republican senators will hesitate before voting to remove, fearing a backlash from party supporters in their home states.
Should Trump survive the trial without being removed as is widely expected, he faces an uncertain 11 months as he attempts to secure re-election.
No president has been impeached and gone on to win an election. Johnson sought his party’s nomination after surviving impeachment vote but failed.
Clinton left office after his second term ended two years later. But it does not mean a downward turn in support.
Clinton, impeached for lying under oath about his affair with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, saw his approval rating increase after impeachment.
For Trump, survival in the senate trial will amount to vindication, while the American people will have to wait till November 2020 to pass their own judgment.