The Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, proposes to bring the beginning of impeachment Donald Trump to February to give the former president time to prepare and review his case.
Democratic representatives who last week voted to try Trump for inciting the violent January 6 riots on Capitol Hill implied that they want to fast forward toward the trial as President Joe Biden begins his term, saying full accountability is necessary before the country – and Congress – can turn the page.
But McConnell, in a statement released Thursday night, suggested a timeline more extensive that would cause the House of Representatives to send the impeachment article next week, on January 28, launching the first stage of the trial. After that, the Senate would give the president’s defense team and House attorneys two weeks to make their presentations. The arguments of the trial would probably begin in the middle of February.
“A fair process”
“Republican senators are strongly united in supporting the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself deserve a fair process and complete that respects their rights and the serious factual, legal and constitutional issues at stake ”, especially given unprecedented speed of the House process, McConnell said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, is analyzing the plan and will discuss it with McConnell, a spokesperson said. Both leaders are also negotiating how the new Senate will function. 50-50 and how they will order other priorities.
Trump flies over Washington for the last time as president on January 20. Photo: dpa
Delaying the trial is something that could attract some Democrats, while giving the Senate more time to confirm Biden’s candidates to the cabinet and to discuss a new series of coronavirus assistance measures. Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a key ally of the president, told CNN that Democrats would consider a postponement “if we make progress in confirming the highly talented, experienced and diverse team that President Joe Biden has nominated.”
Everything in the hands of Pelosi
Ultimate power as to the date chosen is in the hands of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who can start the trial anytime by sending the accusation of incitement to insurrection to the Senate. The California Democrat has yet to say when it will.
“It will be soon. I don’t think this will take long but we have to do it, ”Pelosi said Thursday. He noted that Trump does not deserve immunity just because he has left office and Biden and others are demanding national unity.
Trump, who is facing his second impeachment in two years, began building his team of advocates by hiring attorney Butch Bowers to represent him, according to a consultant. Bowers was previously legal counsel to former South Carolina Governors Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford.
The National Guard guards Congress, seized by protesters on January 6. Photo: AP
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina helped Trump find Bowers after members of his former legal teams indicated they do not plan to join the new effort. Trump is at a disadvantage compared to the first trial, in which he had all the resources of the White House law office to defend himself.
The nine executors of Pelosi’s impeachment, who will prosecute the case in the Chamber, have met regularly to discuss the strategy. Pelosi stated that she would speak with them “in the next few days” about when the Senate might be ready for a trial.
Shortly before the January 6 insurrection, Trump told thousands of his supporters at a rally near the White House to “fight hard” against the results of the election that Congress was to certify. A crowd marched up to the Capitol and broke into it, interrupting the count. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, they died in the riots, and the House impeachment Trump a week later. Ten Republicans added their support to all of the Democrats.
Pelosi said it would be “detrimental to the unit” forget that “people died here on January 6, an attempt was made to undermine our election, to undermine our democracy, dishonor the Constitution”.
Trump was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate in his first impeachment trial. The White House legal team, with the help of Trump’s personal attorneys, vigorously rejected the House allegations that he had encouraged the President of Ukraine to investigate Biden in exchange for military aid. This time, Pelosi noted, the House does not seek to condemn the president for private conversations but for a very public insurrection that they themselves experienced and that could be seen live on television.
“This year, the whole world is witnessing the incitement of the president,” Pelosi said.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second Democratic chief, said it is too early to know how long the trial will last or if Democrats will want to call witnesses. But he added: “They don’t need to tell us what happened at the scene of the riots, we we ran down the stairs to escape”.
McConnell, who said this week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riots, has not revealed how he will vote. He informed his Republican colleagues that theirs will be a vote of conscience.
Democrats would need the support of 17 Republicans At the very least to convict Trump, a complicated requirement. While a handful of Republican senators have hinted they are up for a conviction, most have said they believe the trial would be divisive and questioned the legality to judge a president once he has left office.
Graham said that if he were Trump’s attorney, he would focus on that argument and the merits of the case … and whether there was “incitement” under the law.
“I guess the public domain is the TV screen,” Graham said. “So, I don’t see why this would take a long time.”
By Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro, Associated Press
Translation: Elisa Carnelli