House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver a House-passed impeachment article to the Senate Monday – immediately kicking off a Senate trial for former President Donald Trump as President Joe Biden begins the first full week of his presidency.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced Pelosi’s move on the Senate floor Friday at the start of the day’s session, after new Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a proposal that would have delayed a trial until mid February in part to give Trump’s legal team time to prepare.
‘I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,’ Schumer said. He listed impeachment along with other pressing business as priorities, as President Joe Biden seeks to get a cabinet confirmed and move his agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced Pelosi’s decision to transmit an impeachment article to the Senate
‘The Senate must and will do all three: COVID relief, confirmation of nominees, and impeachment trial,’ Schumer said from the floor.
‘The Senate will conduct a trial on the impeachment of Donald Trump, said Schumer said. ‘It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial.’
The move kicks off a series of events.
The trial would formally begin on Monday, when the Senate under its rules becomes a court of impeachment.
On Tuesday, another step would occur with the swearing in of the presiding officer. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts reportedly is not keen on presiding. The Constitution states that the chief justice shall preside over presidential impeachments, but a trial for a former president is a gray area. The trial itself could begin Wednesday – although an entirely different schedule could occur if Schumer and McConnell are able to reach agreement or if something could gain consent of all 100 senators.
Schumer said he has been speaking with Sen. Mitch McConnell about the ‘timing and duration’ of the trial.
Trump will be the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, and the first to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had proposed a schedule to start the trial in mid-February
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., holds the article of impeachment against President Donald Trump after signing it, in an engrossment ceremony before transmission to the Senate for trial on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021
President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he tours a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Alamo, Texas. He was impeached in the House for ‘incitement of insurrection’
Pelosi’s move means the Senate will at least ceremonially begin the trial Tuesday, when senators are sworn in to be essentially jurors and the Senate formally accepts the article to form a court of impeachment.
A series of prominent lawyers who have worked with Trump in the past have said they will not be taking part in the impeachment trial.
He no longer has the benefit of having a White House counsel to defend him as he did when he was in office.
Trump will be represented by South Carolina attorney Karl ‘Butch’ Bowers, who was identified by Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who will serve as a juror weighing Trump’s fate in the trial. Bowers has represented former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and and former Gov. Mark Sanford.
Schumer and McConnell have already begun negotiations for how a trial might proceed – amid Democratic concerns that the trial could sap momentum for Biden’s early moves. To date he has just two cabinet members confirmed – Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who got confirmed by the Senate after Schumer spoke.
And with leaders also negotiating on a power-sharing agreement for the 50-50 Senate amid McConnell’s procedural demands, Democrats don’t yet have the authority to quickly push through nominations either.
Pelosi’s decision comes a day after she was coy when asked about when she might send over an article. There are already signs that the end of Trump’s tenure could be having an impact on Republican fury at Trump after a MAGA mob ransacked the Capitol.
The Hill reported at most five or six Republicans might vote for impeachment, based on some lawmakers’ assessments. Republicans have seen the political blowback at House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, who voted for impeachment and issued a blistering statement, only to see a challenge forming to her own leadership post.
Two-thirds of senators would have to vote for Trump to be convicted. After that happened, a majority vote could prevent him from ever holding public office – at a time when he has maintained a grip over the Republican Party.
McConnell had been seeking a delay of the articles until next week, in a plan he released Thursday. “Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake,” he said.
The House impeached Trump for ‘incitement of insurrection’ following his remarks to supporters who later trashed the Capitol. Trump had told them to ‘fight like hell,’ after spending two months calling the election ‘rigged’ and claiming he won.
More than 100 House Republicans voted to overturn election results even after members of the mob stormed the House floor. It was later revealed members of the mob chanted to ‘hang Mike Pence’ and smashed windows.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters in the Capitol that ‘We can do anything after the articles come over, that we can all live we can agree to.’ But absent such unanimous consent, he said: ‘If we can’t agree, as I understand it, the next day at one o’clock, we start the trial and we stay within six days a week until we’re done. I believe there’s a desire to agree to a different structure than that but that would all be between Schumer and McConnell.’