Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the House’s article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the Senate’s impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.
“I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
The House’s transmission of the impeachment article on Monday would mean that the Senate trial would begin at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday — unless the Senate reaches an agreement that would push back the trial itself.
Short of an agreement to push the trial back, Democratic sources say that senators and the presiding officer — it’s still unclear whether Chief Justice John Roberts will preside — would be sworn in Tuesday afternoon. Then arguments would start on Wednesday. The length of the trial is still an open question, which will depend both on whether the House impeachment managers seek to call witness and the length of senators’ questions for the legal teams. But sources say most believe the trial will be shorter than the three-week 2020 impeachment trial for Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had proposed delaying the trial until mid-February in order to give Trump’s legal team time to prepare, beginning the ceremonial functions next week but allowing two weeks for pre-trial briefs to be filed by the House and Trump’s lawyers. Schumer’s announcement puts a new deadline for the Senate leaders to reach an agreement — as the impeachment logistics are part of a broader negotiation over the Senate’s power-sharing agreement that remains stalled over a fight about the filibuster.
Schumer said Friday that McConnell’s insistence the Senate’s organizing resolution include a provision protecting the filibuster was “unacceptable — and it won’t be accepted.”
But pushing forward with the trial against GOP wishes also threatens to stall the confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet nominees.
“We won’t be doing any confirmations, we won’t be doing any Covid-19 relief, we won’t be doing anything else other than impeaching a person who’s not even president,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a member of Senate GOP leadership.
Cornyn said Republicans haven’t given consent to bifurcate the trial days to take up nominations during the trial. “No, it’s not gonna happen,” he said.
If the Senate begins the trial next week, it will have to pass a resolution to set the rules of the trial. Schumer’s goal is to do so on a bipartisan basis, but the Democratic sources can be adopted with a majority of senators.
Schumer also pushed back on an argument from Senate Republicans that an impeachment trial for a former president was unconstitutional, noting legal scholars have said there is precedent for doing so.
“The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Schumer said. “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.”
McConnell said Friday that the Senate should give Trump a “full and fair process” to mount his impeachment defense.
“This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House. The sequel cannot be an insufficient senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself,” McConnell said. “Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.