Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver the House’s impeachment article against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, thereby triggering the beginning of impeachment proceedings in the Senate.
Last week, the House voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the violent attempted coup at the Capitol building on March 6. Trump loyalists breached the Capitol while Trump and many of his fellow Republicans, without evidence, disputed the results of the presidential election.
The charging document claims that Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government,” and “thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor on Friday, said: “The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a full trial. It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial, and when that trial ends, senators will have to decide if they believe Donald John Trump incited the insurrection against the United States.”
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The impeachment trial will begin next week unless the Senate agrees to change the timing. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has said he wants to move the trial to mid-February in order to give Trump’s legal team time to prepare.
McConnell and Schumer have recently been stuck in negotiations on Senate power-sharing as McConnell has demanded that the Senate filibuster — which was a useful tool for him during the Barack Obama administration — be protected. Schumer said on Friday that the filibuster request was “unacceptable.”
The timing of the trial is also of note to Democrats who are eager to confirm Biden’s cabinet appointments. Schumer, according to CNN, has not ruled out delaying the trial as long as Democrats can strike a deal to lock in votes.
McConnell has said he is open to voting to convict Trump. Earlier this week, when the Senate reconvened for the first time since January 6, he said: “The mob [of Trump supporters] was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people.” Many noted then that McConnell also shoulders blame for the attack that inspired impeachment and that his comments may reflect his concerns over his own legacy.
It is unclear as to whether the Senate will vote to convict Trump. During his first impeachment, the Senate voted “not guilty” on both counts, with Sen. Mitt Romney being the only Republican to vote to convict. The Washington Post reports that, as of this writing, 42 senators have come out in favor of conviction and 19 are open to the possibility, including 13 Republicans.
Given that every Democrat will likely vote to find Trump guilty, as the party members did last year, they probably only need 17 Republicans to hop on to achieve the two-thirds vote needed to convict. Eight Republicans have not yet said anything either way about impeachment, according to the Washington Post — so the margin will likely be thin if the Senate ends up finding him guilty.
Political commentators have noted that Republicans’ decision to impeach Trump may be based less on their assessment of his guilt than on their strategic assessment of where the Republican Party plans to go from here. Earlier this month, House Republicans were reportedly voting against impeachment because they were afraid of both the political power and violence of Trump’s base, members of whom were allegedly sending the lawmakers death threats.
Meanwhile, many Republicans are also aware that their choices on impeachment will likely affect their reelection bids as they may be facing either primary challenges from candidates embraced by Trump’s base or the risk of being unseated by a Democrat come election time.