the House voted Wednesday to charge the outgoing president with inciting the insurrection at the Capitol that left five people dead.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday that the chamber could take up the issue at its “first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House.” But he said a trial couldn’t be held before Trump’s term expires at noon Jan. 20. The Senate next meets on Tuesday.
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office,” McConnell said.
Senators must first receive the article of impeachment House lawmakers approved Wednesday – and there’s no telling how long they’ll wait.
The Senate must move directly to the trial once it receives the article. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declined repeatedly to respond to questions about when she would send the article to the Senate. She signed the formal version of the article Wednesday evening, but didn’t answer questions.
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Since the House passed just one article of impeachment, rather than the two the chamber passed during Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, a Senate trial could be shorter, said a source familiar with the impeachment trial plans, but who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. The source added that witnesses would likely be part of the trial but cautioned that lawmakers were just beginning their work and would be having daily meetings to discuss strategy.
The 100-member Senate will be divided equally between the parties after two Georgia Democrats, who won runoff elections, are sworn in. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will become majority leader because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break ties.
Schumer said a trial could start immediately if Republicans agreed.
“But make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate,” Schumer said.
One reason Democrats want to hold a trial even after Trump leaves office is to bar him from future office, if he’s convicted. But conviction requires two-thirds –or 67 votes – in the closely divided Senate.
“The president of the United States incited a violent mob against the duly elected government of the United States in a vicious, depraved and desperate attempt to remain in power,” Schumer said. “For the sake of our democracy, it cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished.”
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House Democratic leaders have offered different strategies about whether to send the article immediately or hold it until after Biden has a chance to get Cabinet nominees confirmed and legislation started.
House Majority Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the article would be sent quickly. But House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said it could wait until after the first 100 days of the Biden administration.
The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump. Ten Republicans joined the Democratic effort – including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican – making it the most bipartisan impeachment in history.
“I would hope that they would act as soon as possible,” Hoyer said. “The speaker is talking to Mr. Schumer, and we’ll determine that.”
In preparation for the trial, Pelosi named the lawmakers who will serve as prosecutors at the trial, called managers. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who was previously a constitutional law professor, will lead the prosecution.
Other managers are Democratic Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Diana DeGette of Colorado, Joaquin Castro of Texas, Eric Swalwell of California, Ted Lieu of California, Joe Neguse of Colorado, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Stacey Plaskett, a delegate from the Virgin Islands.
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