WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 22, 2021)—today Senator Chuck Schumer announced on the U.S. Senate floor that the House Democrats plan to send the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday. The start of arguments in the Senate’s impeachment trial won’t begin until the week of February 8th, according to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) giving the Senate time to confirm Biden’s nominees. The pending trial threatens to stall Biden’s cabinet confirmations.
Senate Minority Leader McConnel on Thursday proposed delaying the start of the trial until mid-February. He is asking for the House impeachment managers to wait until Thursday to present the article of impeachment to the Senate. He wants to give Trump’s legal team until Feb. 11 to submit its pre-trial brief.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed in a statement Friday that the article would be sent to the Senate on Monday.
“We are respectful of the Senate’s constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process, noting that the former president will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers,” she said. “Our Managers are ready to begin to make their case to 100 Senate jurors through the trial process.”
The announcement effectively sets a deadline for the Senate leaders to reach an agreement on both the impeachment logistics as well as the 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.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said Republicans haven’t given consent to bifurcate the trial days to take up Biden’s nominations during the trial. “No, it’s not going to happen,” he said.
In order to convict Trump, Schumer’s Democrats need a two-thirds majority (60 yeas), meaning at least 17 Republicans would have to vote to convict Trump, assuming that all 50 Democrats do. This is a big hurdle that Schumer’s Democrats have to cross. Ten House Republicans joined with Pelosi’s Democrats to impeach Trump–but they have faced backlash from their supporters back in their Districts.
Republicans say the chances that President Trump will be convicted in an impeachment trial are plummeting, despite the anger of some Republicans and Democrats over his alleged actions.
Only five or six Republican senators at the most seem likely to vote for impeachment, far fewer than the number needed, according to GOP sources.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK) is considered a swing GOP vote, said Friday that the process “has to be fair.”
“My thought process is to see what happens as this unfolds,” she said. “You know, we learned this morning that Speaker Pelosi is going to transmit the article on Monday. As I understand, right now, there hasn’t been an agreed-to schedule on the pre-trial. I think what McConnell laid down was eminently reasonable, in terms of making sure that we got process. Got to have process and the process has to be fair. So yeah, so we’ve got to get started, I guess.”
The Biden’s administration has taken a no comment approach to the impeachment process, but the President and his advisers have made clear this week to Democratic congressional leaders that they see little upside to delaying or extending a trial that is already complicating Biden’s first 100 days in office. The current view inside the White House is that Trump stands little chance of being convicted.
Biden has stated several times that the impeachment is up to Congress, but he also has little desire for allowing the Senate trial to drag out any longer than necessary.
“We need to move past this,” a Biden official told CNN. “The only way for that to happen is for the trial to begin.”
One significant development is that Trump decided not to pardon any of the individuals charged with taking part in the Capitol riot, which would have lost him more Republican support.
“I thought if he pardoned people who had been part of this invasion of the Capitol, that would have pushed the number higher because that would have said, ‘These are my guys,’” said one Republican senator, who requested anonymity to speak about how GOP senators are likely to vote.
GOP senators are also worried about a political backlash from the former president’s fervent supporters.
They have observed the angry response to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who is facing calls to resign from the House GOP leadership team after voting last week to impeach Trump.
A second Republican senator said the Republican Party needs to rebuild and warned it will be tough to bring President Trump’s base into the party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election if GOP senators vote in large numbers to convict President Trump.
“For the most part, there is a real strong consensus among our members that this is after the fact. He’s out of office and impeachment is a remedy to remove somebody from office, so there’s the constitutional question,” the second GOP senator said. There is also a question if the impeachment trial is constitutional.