FORMAL impeachment proceedings were launched against Donald Trump on Thursday, when the Articles of Impeachment were read out in the Senate - only the third impeachment trial in US history.
But a defiant President Trump is railing against the accusations, tweeting soon after the proceedings adjourned that he "just got impeached for making a perfect phone call!"
At 12.05pm in the chamber Rep. Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee officially kicked off the Trump impeachment proceedings when he read the first Article of Impeachment, which is abuse of power.
The second article of impeachment is obstructing Congress.
"In the history of the Republic," Schiff read, "no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry, or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate high crimes and misdemeanors."
"President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States."
Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, and withholding $391 million in military aid as leverage.
It's also alleged he tried to block witness testimony and evidence from the House’s inquiry, which if proven true would be an obstruction of Congress.
It’s the start of ceremonial protocol that shifts the proceedings out of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic-run House to the Republican-majority Senate.
President Trump didn't only slam the proceedings on Twitter. Speaking in the Oval Office shortly after the impeachment proceedings adjourned, he called it a "hoax" and said he thinks the trial "should go very quickly".
He also hit back during the proceedings via White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who tweeted the articles were a "sham" and have been "manufactured".
"After yesterday’s historic trade deal [with] China [and] USMCA passed today, the dems are now reading their sham articles of impeachment, which they manufactured in order to stop [the President] from his continued success on behalf of [the US].
"He's working - they’re whining," Grisham said.
Later in the afternoon, at 2.10 pm Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in, placing his hand on a Bible as he swore to deliver "impartial justice".
Roberts then administered the jurors’ oath to senators who will serve as the jury for the presidential impeachment hearings.
Shortly after 2pm the Senate adjourned until next Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, when opening arguments will begin.
Moments later Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed new key dates for the impeachment trial:
January 18 by 5pm: The House of Representatives can file a trial brief with the secretary of the Senate before this date and time
January 20 by noon: Deadline for when the President can file a trial brief
January 21 by noon: Deadline for the House to file a rebuttal brief
Speaking after the proceedings were adjourned, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described the atmosphere in the Senate chamber as "solemn, serious and profound".
"For all of us the solemnity, the gravity of the moment in our history hits you square in the back when you take that oath," Schumer said.
"The feeling in the Senate chamber was solemn, serious, profound. The weight of history, the eyes of history, you feel it upon you. I know every one of my colleagues felt it. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle felt it."
The historic moment followed two-and-a-half months of investigation by the House Intelligence Committee, including days of hearings and testimony.
Earlier seven lawmakers prosecuting the charges, including Schiff and Rep. Jerrold Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, made the solemn walk across the Capitol for a second day.
The events, unfolding during an election year as Trump seeks another term, will be a test not only of his presidency but also of the nation’s three branches of power and its system of checks and balances. Several senators are running for the Democratic party’s nomination to challenge Trump in November.
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On Wednesday, in a dramatic procession across the US Capitol, House Democrats carried the charges to the Senate.
“Today we will make history,″ Pelosi said as she signed the documents, using multiple pens to hand out and mark the moment.
“This president will be held accountable.”
Moments later the prosecutors walked solemnly through the stately hall, filing into the Senate back row as the clerk of the House announced the arrival: “The House has passed House Resolution 798, a resolution appointing and authorizing managers of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, president of United States.”
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