Trump impeachment trial to be heard after he leaves office: McConnell
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed an article of impeachment accusing Trump of inciting an insurrection during last week’s Capitol riot, but the Senate is not due to reconvene until Jan. 19 — the day before Biden’s inauguration.
Democrats desperate to have the matter heard in the upper chamber as swiftly as possible lobbied McConnell (R-Ky.) to take up the matter while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) explored a 2004 rule that would have allowed him to recall the chamber in an emergency.
McConnell spokesman Doug Andres confirmed that McConnell’s office called Schumer and told him they would not consent to an emergency reconvening.
In a statement after the vote, McConnell said Senate procedures meant there was “simply no chance that a fair and serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”
“The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 87 days, 37 days and 21 days respectively,” he wrote.
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The president-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the ‘quickest’ path for any change in the occupant of the presidency.”
The outgoing Senate leader, who will soon be replaced by Schumer and become minority leader, said the nation should instead focus on a safe inauguration and transition to a Biden inauguration.
In a separate letter to his GOP colleagues, McConnell also confirmed that he had not yet decided which way he would vote in the Senate impeachment trial.
Ten Republican lawmakers on Wednesday voted to impeach Trump in the House.
Earlier Wednesday, McConnell spokesman Doug Andres confirmed that McConnell’s office called Schumer and told him they would not consent to an emergency reconvening.
This means Trump’s impeachment trial will almost certainly take place during the earliest days of Biden’s presidency.
In an interview earlier this month, House Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), one of the former veep’s closest confidants, warned Democrats to hold off on sending the articles to the Senate to give Biden space to create his legislative agenda.
“I do have concerns, and so does Speaker Pelosi,” Clyburn told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” he said, “and maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”