On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed delaying the start of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial until mid-February so that all involved could have more time to prepare their legal arguments.
McConnell said Thursday that Republicans in the Senate were “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.”
Under McConnell’s proposed pre-trial timeline, the impeachment article would be read before the Senate on January 28. Trump would then have to respond by February 4, and after he responds, would have another week (February 11 at the latest) to submit a pre-trial brief. The House, meanwhile, would be required to submit a pre-trial brief by February 4, and a rebuttal pre-trial brief by February 13.
“Given the unprecedented speed of the House’s process, our proposed timeline for the initial phases includes a modest and reasonable amount of additional time for both sides to assemble their arguments before the Senate would begin to hear them,” said McConnell. “At this time of strong political passions, Senate Republicans believe it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to short-circuit the due process that former President Trump deserves or damage the Senate or the presidency.”
McConnell said Thursday the proposal had been sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Schumer’s office told Politico they planned to review McConnell’s proposal and discuss it with him.
Trump was impeached for incitement of insurrection earlier this month, becoming the first president in American history to be impeached twice. Every Democratic member of the House voted to impeach the president, and ten Republican members of Congress did as well, including House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-WY).
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said.
No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, which requires a ⅔ vote, following an impeachment in the House.
According to The Washington Post, 42 senators — all Democrats or Independents who caucus with Democrats — have said they plan to vote for a conviction. Nineteen senators, including 14 Republican senators, have said they are open to conviction or have not expressly ruled it out as a possibility. Twenty-six Republican senators have ruled out conviction, and thirteen senators, including ten Republicans and three Democrats, have not made statements on convicting Trump, or have made ambiguous ones.
The Associated Press reports that, were Trump convicted in the Senate, precedent says that senators would also take a separate vote on whether to bar him from holding federal public office again. When such post-conviction votes have been taken against federal judges as part of impeachment trials in the past, reports AP, only a majority vote among senators has been needed to bar the official from federal office.
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