Senators Agree to Delay Trump Impeachment Trial for Two Weeks

A no-show for President Joe Biden’s inauguration, former President Donald Trump looks out his window Wednesday as his motorcade drives through West Palm Beach, Fla., on his way to his Mar-a-Lago club. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post via AP)

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Senate trial over an article of impeachment accusing former President Trump of inciting an insurrectionist mob to storm the U.S. Capitol is set to begin the second week of February after Senate leaders agreed Friday to a two-week delay.  

The trial is now likely to start the week of Feb. 8. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had said earlier in the day that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday.

Schumer said Friday evening that impeachment managers will be sworn in next week.

“For the information of all Senators, the House managers will come to read the article of impeachment at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25,” Schumer said. “Members will then be sworn in the next day, Tuesday, Jan. 26. After that, both the House managers and the defense will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials.”

After senators and House managers get settled, Trump will have until Feb. 2 to give his initial answer the accusations against him. After another round of briefs are filed, a trial can begin as soon as Tuesday, Feb. 9, according to a schedule agreed to by Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The New York Democrat left little doubt Friday morning that the body would force a vote on the issue. In his evening remarks, Schumer said Jan. 6 is a day no American would ever forget.

“We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us. But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide,” he said.

McConnell earlier Friday rejected the need for the body to impeach Trump now that he’s become a civilian, saying he had shared with Democratic leadership what pretrial functions of the Senate might look like Thursday. Rules of the Senate dictate an impeachment trial must begin the moment articles arrive in the chamber, McConnell noted.

“This impeachment began with an unprecedently fast and minimal process over in the House,” McConnell said. “The sequel cannot be an insufficient Senate process that denies former president Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself.”

McConnell continued by saying Republicans were in support of a “full and fair” process where Trump is afforded an adequate defense of his Jan. 6 comments, stoking supporters before an armed mob of his followers laid siege to the seat of the U.S. government for several hours. Senators must also be allowed to properly consider the constitutional questions presented in the trial, the Kentucky Republican said. 

McConnell said the GOP was ready to suggest a schedule where the articles would be transferred to the chamber next Thursday, the House’s response due by Feb. 4, and the former president’s brief due by Feb. 11. 

“Which by the way, would have been a substantial benefit to the incoming administration and allowed them to get more of their cabinet confirmed, which we are cooperating as best we can to expedite,” McConnell said. 

House leadership, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, have kept their impeachment play close to the chest — Trump became the first U.S. president ever impeached twice last Wednesday, and President Joe Biden was inaugurated this Wednesday. 

Pelosi told reporters yesterday it was only a matter of time until the House sent over its sole impeachment article, noting the responsibility of Congress to protect the Constitution. Republicans from both chambers have been vocal that another impeachment trial would only sow further discord between Americans and other elected officials.

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