February 27, 2021

News West

West Coast News Network

McConnell wants to delay Trump impeachment trial to February

Former President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is unlikely to get started for days if not weeks as Republicans try to give Trump time to put together a legal team to defend himself against a charge of inciting an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

It is not yet clear whether Senate Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who controls when the article of impeachment moves from the House to the Senate, will go along with the request.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to pitch Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on starting the trial in February.

McConnell’s proposal calls for pretrial proceedings, such as the swearing in of senators and issuance of a summons to Trump, to take place Jan. 28. From there, briefs would be due on Feb. 4 and Feb. 11, giving Trump’s team a total of 14 days to prepare briefs. The House impeachment managers would reply on Feb. 13.

A trial would presumably begin after that. Some are pushing for a vastly abbreviated three-day trial, with 12 hours of arguments for each side. But no decisions have been made.

Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed support for giving Trump time to find legal representation. The Office of White House Counsel, along with other private attorneys, represented Trump in his first impeachment trial last year. But now as a former president, he would need to find new lawyers.

“He has a right to defend himself,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) after Senate Republicans discussed timing on a conference call Thursday. “I don’t think this is something that we should rush into when you’re talking about the gravity of it.”

Once Pelosi moves the article to the Senate, it will set off an immediate chain of events, including the start of the trial unless all 100 senators agree to change the timetable. Given the fact that her fellow Democrats control the Senate, Pelosi is unlikely to send the article until Senate Democrats are ready.

The trial timing is just one of two major points of negotiation between McConnell and Schumer as Democrats take control of the Senate for the first time since 2014.

The chamber is now divided 50-50 with Democrats in control because of the tiebreaking power of Vice President Kamala Harris. Because of the even split, the leaders need to come to an agreement on how the Senate will operate, such as how many senators will sit on committees.

Schumer and McConnell met in person earlier this week but both men reported little progress. It is unknown when they will meet to negotiate further.