A second impeachment trial against President Donald Trump is likely to feed into President-elect Joe Biden’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is due to bring the upper chamber back no earlier than Tuesday.
A Kentucky Republican spokesman confirmed that his office had informed Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., that McConnell would not convene the Senate until Tuesday, the day before Biden’s inauguration. Schumer had urged his GOP counterpart to deploy emergency forces to quickly hold a trial and vote on whether Trump should be convicted and removed from office.
The House will vote on Wednesday to indict Trump for inciting the Capitol uprising last week while Congress is counting Biden’s election victory. While the Democrats said they would have to prosecute Trump to hold him accountable for the violent unrest, they feared that a Senate trial in the early days of Biden’s administration would hamper the approval of cabinet members and the passage of a coronavirus aid package.
Biden has suggested that the Senate could “split up”, using part of its day to impeach and another part to validate candidates.
Schumer becomes majority leader after two elected Democratic Senators from Georgia are sworn in, which is expected to happen before the end of the month. The House took extraordinary steps to get an impeachment article to speak on Wednesday, but it is unclear whether a McConnell-led Senate would take additional steps to expedite the process.
The trial against the Senate following the initial indictment against Trump lasted almost three weeks, from mid-January to early February last year.
Given the schedule, it is unlikely that Congress will remove Trump from office a week from Wednesday before Biden takes office. However, a Senate vote to condemn Trump would prevent him from becoming president again in 2025.
The Washington Post first reported that McConnell would not bring the Senate back early.
If the Senate were to vote on whether to convict Trump before control changes hands, all 48 Democrats and 18 Republicans would have to support the move. If the Senate were to consider impeachment after the Democrats took control, all 50 party members plus 17 Republicans would have to support the conviction.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that McConnell believes Trump committed criminal acts. In a Wednesday message to colleagues responding to “speculation” in the press, McConnell said he had not made a decision whether to support the impeachment.
“I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to hear the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” he wrote.
Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Said he would consider a House-sent impeachment order. GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski from Alaska and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania urged Trump to resign.
“I want him out. He’s done enough damage,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News.
Other Senate Republicans have already said they will not vote to condemn the president. Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of Trump who distanced himself from the president after the attack, said Wednesday he was opposed to impeachment.
The South Carolina Republican criticized the hasty process in the House, claiming that Trump was “committed to an orderly transfer of power to promote calm and reject violence.” On Tuesday, the president said the impeachment posed an “enormous threat” to the country.
Graham has also looked at Republicans who support impeachment.
“My Republican colleagues who legitimize this process are damaging not only the country, the future of the presidency, but also the party,” he said.
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