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Donald Trump's impeachment trial is set to begin February 9 after Joe Biden backs DELAYING it saying 'the more time we have to get up and running the better'

 Senate Republican and Democratic leaders have reached agreement on the the calendar outlines for the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump – with the substance of the trial set to begin February 9th.

The agreement, which Majority Leader Charles Schumer called 'good progress,' came after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called for a delay in the trial, in a posture that got a boost from President Joe Biden, who is anxious to get his cabinet confirmed.

Under the outlines of the plan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will transmit an impeachment article Monday, leading senators to be sworn in Tuesday night. A week later, on Feb. 2, Trump's lawyers and impeachment managers must submit their answers to the impeachment article. The following week, Feb. 8, would be the deadline for the next round of trial briefs, according to McConnell's office. 

The trial could then begin on Feb. 9th.

'The January 6 insurrection at the Capitol incited by Donald J. Trump was a day none of us will ever forget,' Schumer said on the Senate floor Friday night. 

'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.  

He said the delay after Monday's article will provide 'a period of time to draft their legal briefs just as they did in previous trials.' The breakthrough came hours after President Biden expressed support for the idea of delaying a Senate impeachment trial of his predecessor – expressing at least general support for a proposal put forward by McConnell.

However, Schumer did not say who would preside over the trial, how long it might take, or whether witnesses would provide testimony. 

McConnell said he would have preferred his original proposal to have the House hold up the article until next Thursday. 'We need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake,' McConnell said.

'Leader McConnell is glad that Leader Schumer agreed to Republicans’ request for additional time during the pre-trial phase. Especially given the fast and minimal process in the House, Republicans set out to ensure the Senate’s next steps will respect former President Trump’s rights and due process, the institution of the Senate, and the office of the presidency,' said McConnell spokesman Doug Andres. He called the deal 'a win for due process and fairness.'

He endorsed the idea after rolling out more of his economic plan Friday afternoon, hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will send over an impeachment article Monday which will kick off a Senate trial of Biden's predecessor. 

The legislative part of his plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, would get caught up in the chaos. 

'I haven't heard the detail of it but I do think that having some time to get our administration up and running, the more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better,' he said when asked about McConnell's offer.

'I want to thank the Senate for passing out our Secretary of Defense. Looks like our Secretary of Treasury, looks like our Secretary of State's in place. 

'So the more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises the better,' he said, mentioning one cabinet nomination that had cleared the Senate - that of Auston Lloyd to lead the Pentagon - and two that had not.

His comment came after White House press secretary Jen Psaki, said Biden 'believes that it's up to the Senate and Congress to determine how they will hold the former president accountable and what the mechanics and timeline of that process will be.' 

But how the trial will actually happen is in chaos, after Pelosi said she would will deliver a House-passed impeachment article to the Senate Monday. The following day, the trial has to formally begin.

Backing for delay: Joe Biden was asked Friday about a proposal floated by Mitch McConnell to delay a trial by two weeks, saying 'the more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better.'

Backing for delay: Joe Biden was asked Friday about a proposal floated by Mitch McConnell to delay a trial by two weeks, saying 'the more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better.'

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced Pelosi's decision to transmit an impeachment article to the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced Pelosi's decision to transmit an impeachment article to the Senate


Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced Pelosi's move on the Senate floor Friday at the start of the day's session.

But he and Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader, have not struck a deal on how the trial will be run or on how to share power in the 50-50 Senate.

That leaves undecided the details of how the trial will actually unfold, and even who will preside, with Chief Justice John Roberts said to be reluctant, which would mean Kamala Harris could preside as vice-president, or Patrick Leahy as the longest-serving Democratic senator. Both voted to convict Trump at his first impeachment trial. 

Democrats have their own reasons to want to delay a trial – but absent an agreement, it will begin directly. 

'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.

Word of when the article will make its way to the Senate provides some certainty about the start of the trial.

But after that there is no certainty. 

Complicating the picture is leverage Republicans appear to hold over the terms. 

If senators don't unanimously agree on a procedure, the Senate will proceed to the trial on a full-time basis, muddying the start of the Biden presidency. 

It all ties together with the failure so far to reach a power sharing agreement for control of the 50-50 Senate – with Democrats holding the technical majority but still not controlling committees until a new agreement is reached. 

'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.'

On Tuesday, another step would occur with the swearing in of the presiding officer. 

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. 

Senate impeachment rules begin the trial at 1 pm the day after the articles are received. Senators meet six days a week at the same time each day until the trial is concluded. But senators could impose a different schedule if an impeachment resolution is agreed to. 

Schumer said on the floor 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

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

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'

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 and who was with Trump on one of his last trips aboard Air Force One. 

Bowers has previously represented former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Gov. Mark Sanford. 

Graham was already digging in Friday against a quick trial. 'If the trial starts right away, that would be an affront to everything every American claims to hold near and dear is that you get a chance to defend yourself. 

'Senator McConnell's plan is a good plan. And we'll see what the Democrats want to do,' he said.

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.'

Pelosi said in a statement Friday: 'The article of impeachment for incitement of insurrection by Donald Trump will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, January 25 ... 

'We are respectful of the Senate's constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process, noting that the former president will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers. Our Managers are ready to begin to make their case to 100 Senate jurors through the trial process.'

House impeachment managers will argue the case to convict. 

'Exactly one week after the attack on the Capitol to undermine the integrity of our democracy, a bipartisan vote of the House of Representatives passed the article of impeachment, which is our solemn duty to deliver to the Senate,' she said.

With a trial on a fast track, more than 150 legal and constitutional scholars – including a co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society – have joined in a letter arguing that Trump can be impeached despite being out of office. 

They point to the text of the Constitution, precedents, as well as the intentions of the Founders in providing a remedy to stop a 'demagogue' who might seek to overthrow the U.S. government. 

Among the signers of the letter is Northwestern University Law Professor Steven Calabresi, a cofounder of the conservative Federalist Society, a group that generated lists of many of the conservative judicial nominees Trump installed in the courts.

'More broadly, a singular concern of the Framers in devising our constitutional system was the danger of a power-seeking populist of the type they referred to as a 'demagogue' rising to the highest office and overthrowing republican government,' they write.

 'The Framers further understood that the source of such a person's power does not expire if he or she is expelled from office; so long as such a person retains the loyalty of his or her supporters, he or she might return to power. 

The Framers devised the disqualification power to guard against that possibility, and would surely disagree that a person who sought to overthrow our democracy could not be disqualified from holding a future office of the United States because the plot reached its crescendo too close to the end of his or her term.

Another key part of the argument is that the Constitution provides not just for removal but for denying future office. 

It states that impeachment 'shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States. 

2 comments:

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  2. I like the precedent that this would set. If they proceed in their efforts to impeach a private citizen...the list of people that I will than be organizing to impeach is VERY long! I think I'll start with BGates, MZuckerberg and HBibden and continue from there.

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