Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, reached an agreement with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to delay former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Trump is charged with inciting an insurrection at the U.S Capitol on January 6th. The two leaders are already in discussions on the Senate’s shared power, which is now 50-50, with the Democrats holding control as Vice President Kamala Harris possesses the tie-breaking vote. This power shift further complicated talks between the two on the start date of Trump’s impeachment trial. “We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us, but healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide,” said Schumer speaking about the recent Capital riot.
The decision came just one day after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called for the delay to give former President Trump time to form a defense team and adequately prepare for the trial. The trial is scheduled to begin opening arguments the week of February 8th. The pushed back start date also allows for President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees’ confirmation and gives the Senate time to review the newly proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to send the article of impeachment by the evening of Monday, January 25th, and senate jurors will be sworn in the following day on Tuesday the 26th. Speaker Pelosi said that Trump and his team were afforded the same amount of time to prepare for trial as the Democrats, noting that the House impeachment prosecutors are “ready to begin to make their case.”
This will be Trump’s second impeachment and the first impeachment trial of a U.S. President after already leaving office. Trump’s Republican allies in the Senate oppose the trial calling it ineffectual. Some Senate Republicans have even gone as far as implying that conducting an impeachment trial after the former President has left office violates Trump’s constitutional rights. Democrats, however, emphasize the seriousness of holding Trump accountable for his actions. California U.S. Representative Ted Lieu expressed the Democrat’s call for accountability by saying, “It was an attack on our nation instigated by our commander in chief. We have to address that and make sure it never happens again.” If convicted, which requires at least 67 votes, the Senate could ban Trump from running for any federal office again, something he indicated he would do in the next presidential election.
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer and journalist based in Chicago. Find her on social @beboldshineon.