The Senate trial of former President Donald Trump will begin on Feb. 9, according to a deal reached Friday that pushed back what would have been the Tuesday start of the trial.
The agreement was made by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, according to The Washington Post.
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said they would officially deliver impeachment documents to the Senate on Monday. That would normally have triggered a Tuesday start for the trial, which Republicans said would have pushed back any other business.
“Absent some agreement, we won’t be doing any confirmations, we won’t be doing any Covid-19 relief, we won’t be doing anything else other than impeaching the person who’s not even president,” Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said before the agreement was announced, according to Politico.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said a rushed trial “would be an affront to everything every American claims to hold near and dear. You get a chance to defend yourself.”
Graham also said that starting the trial right away would have ensured Biden’s Cabinet picks are not even considered until the trial was over.
“Once we take the trial up, we have to do the trial,” Graham said, according to the Post. “If you want to impeach the president, we’re going to do it like we’ve always done it. We’re not going to split the day. … That’s the business of the Senate once we go into it.”
“This basically stops President Biden in his tracks at a time when a number of Republicans believe that President Biden ought to be able to put a Cabinet in place,” said Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming.
President Joe Biden had also urged some delay, saying, “the more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better.”
Schumer said he wants the Senate to confirm Biden’s Cabinet nominations and pass the president’s COVID relief plan before beginning the trial.
Doug Andres, a spokesman for McConnell, called the agreement “a win for due process and fairness.”
“Republicans set out to ensure the Senate’s next steps will respect former president Trump’s rights and due process, the institution of the Senate, and the office of the presidency,” he said. “That goal has been achieved.”
The Democratic-controlled House earlier this month passed a single article of impeachment against Trump, claiming that he should be removed from office for inciting insurrection. Ten Republicans joined Democrats in that vote.
The article of impeachment is akin to an indictment, which now goes to trial in the Senate, as happened to Trump last year when the House passed articles of impeachment against him but the Senate declined to convict Trump on those charges.
Conviction in the Senate trial requires 67 votes out of the 100 senators. The Senate is currently split 50-50, which means that 17 Republicans would need to join Democrats to convict Trump. Current estimates are that somewhere between five and 10 Republicans may side with Democrats.
Some Democrats are hoping to convict Trump and then pass a measure to bar him from ever holding office again.
“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,” Schumer said Friday, according to Politico.
But Graham differed.
“I think you’re opening up Pandora’s box, anything they can do, we can do,” he said. “You engage in post-presidential impeachment — you’re going to destroy the presidency over time.”
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