The Senate has begun the process of putting impeached Judge Samuel Kent on trial.
Senators heard a preview this morning of the evidence against Kent, took a constitutionally required oath to do justice in the case, and appointed a 12-member committee to investigate and present evidence to the full Senate.
Kent, who is being held in a Bureau of Prisons medical facility, faces removal after the House of Representatives last week adopted four articles of impeachment against him. Kent pleaded guilty in February to obstruction of justice, just before he was to go on trial over charges that he sexually abused two court employees. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison and has refused to resign, continuing to draw a salary as if he were still hearing cases in the Southern District of Texas.
A Senate trial “will be held in the coming weeks,” according to the office of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “The Senate takes very seriously its constitutional duty to hold a trial of impeachment,” Reid said in a statement, adding that the committee “will carry out its duties conscientiously and with all due speed.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) will chair the committee and Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) will be vice chair. In a display of relative inexperience, none of the committee members has been in the Senate longer than six years.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is the lead House manager of the case against Kent. He and the other managers stood in the well of the Senate this morning as Schiff explained the articles of impeachment.