The leader of the Democratic majority in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, announced Friday that the speaker of the House of Representatives, also Democrat Nancy Pelosi, will send on Monday to the Senate the article of impeachment of former President Donald Trump for his responsibility in the assault on the Capitol.
That means that the second impeachment trial of Trump could begin next Tuesday, the day after the impeachment of the former president, unless the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate reach an agreement to change that schedule.
The first president in U.S. history to be subjected to two political trials, he faces this time the charge of “inciting insurrection” for the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6 by a mob of his followers, which left five dead, including a policeman.
Although the trial may no longer result in the impeachment of Trump, who left the White House on Wednesday, Democrats are confident that the process will result in the disqualification of the former president from holding future political office.
According to Senate rules, any impeachment trial must begin at 13.00 local time (18.00 GMT) the day after the lower house sends the upper house the charge in question, known as the “impeachment” article.
However, the Senate has some flexibility to mold the timetable, and Schumer said Friday that he is negotiating on the issue with Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who proposed Thursday to delay impeachment until February.
“I’ve been talking to the Republican leader about the timing and length of the trial,” Schumer said, without elaborating.
McConnell argued Thursday that Trump needed time to prepare his defense, so he proposed that once the impeachment trial begins in the Senate, the former president be given a week to file his “response” to the charge against him, and another week to file his preparatory documents for the trial.
McConnell’s proposal would mean that the substantive part of the trial would not begin until mid-February, but it is the Democrats who have the most power to decide on the format of the process, given that they hold the majority in the Senate, and they have not yet ruled on that issue.
“We cannot organize an insufficient process in the Senate that denies former President Trump his due process or harms the Senate or the presidency itself,” McConnell said Friday.
McConnell is hoping to convince Democrats to agree to his proposal on the grounds that giving Trump more time to prepare will also free up more time for the Senate to confirm cabinet nominees for the new president, Joe Biden.