Ayyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves the impeachment of Donald Trump.
The impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump will begin Febuary 9, 2021 under a deal that was reached on Friday by top Senate leaders delaying by two weeks the high stakes proceedings over whether Trump incited the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The agreement was made by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D.NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.KY) following a standoff over the timing of the trial, which could permanently bar Trump from holding public office.
The House on January 13 passed an impeachment article, alleging “incitement of insurrection.” House leaders could have forced the Senate to begin the trial immediately by transmitting the papers across the Capitol. But a delay serves the former and current presidents; Trump has struggled to assemble a legal team and muster a defense, and President Joe Biden needs the Senate to confirm most of his Cabinet appointees.
Schumer said the wait would allow the Senate to make further progress on Biden’s nominations and his $2 trillion pandemic relief proposal the centerpiece of his early legislative agenda before shifting to Trump. McConnell pushed for a three week delay, but Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.CA.) announced their intention to deliver the impeachment papers on Monday setting up a trial as soon as Tuesday. Later in the day, Biden publicly called for a delay, saying, “the more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better.”
If no agreement had been reached, the trial would’ve started on Tuesday and run uninterrupted by other Senate business until the Senate rendered its verdict. The agreement does not resolve another brewing conflict between Schumer and McConnell: over how the Senate will handle a 50-50 partisan split, with Vice President Harris breaking ties in Democrats favor.
The trial agreement came as some rank and file Democrats expressed alarm at the prospect of putting the new president’s priorities on hold to focus the nation’s attention on Trump.“I want to focus as much attention right now on the Biden agenda as possible and minimize the attention on anything other than the Biden agenda,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D.VA).Kaine is part of a small group of Democrats pushing the idea of passing a resolution stating that Trump violated the 14th Amendment which forbids federal officials from ever holding office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the government and in that manner ban him from running again for president.
Schumer said he and McConnell continued to discuss the “timing and duration” of the trial.“But make no mistake, a trial will be held in the United States Senate, and there will be a vote on whether to convict the president,” he said, adding: “It will be a full trial; it will be a fair trial.” McConnell and other Republican senators, while publicly warned that rushing into the trial after the rapid House impeachment vote which took place one week after the Capitol riot, with no evidentiary hearings or opportunity for Trump to mount a defense would taint the process. “Senate Republicans strongly believe 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 Friday.
Democrats could not ignore the warning, since McConnell is among a small group of Senate Republicans who have signaled deep unease with Trump’s conduct surrounding the January 6 riot. Many Democrats doubt McConnell will ultimately vote to convict Trump, despite his remarks this week that the mob was “provoked by the president and other powerful people,” but they understand that they must have his support if the Senate is ultimately going to bar Trump from future office. Another potential Republican vote for conviction, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R.Alaska), also expressed reservations Friday about a rushed trial. “The process has to be fair,” she said.
Under the Constitution, Trump could suffer “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States,” and the House impeachment article seeks to do that. Senator Lindsey Graham (R.SC) and others have urged colleagues to reject the notion that a president can be tried after leaving office, leaving moot the implications of his conduct which includes spreading baseless claims that Biden lost the November election, urging his vice president to reject duly cast electoral college votes, summoning his supporters to rally in Washington as Congress finalized Biden’s win and urging them that day to march to the Capitol.
Schumer sought to rebut that argument Friday on the Senate floor. “It makes no sense whatsoever that a president or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country, and then be permitted to resign, so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disbar them from future office,” he said.