Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump on Monday, triggering the start of Trump’s second impeachment trial.
“The Senate will conduct a trial on the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Schumer said in a floor speech Friday. “It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial.”
With the delivery of the impeachment measure, which charges Trump with inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol, the Senate trial will likely begin early next week, absent a consent agreement between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Schumer did not specify the timing of the trial, but Democrats’ move to formally launch the trial early next week effectively rejects a request from the Senate GOP leader on Thursday to delay the start of the proceedings for two weeks so that Trump can formulate a legal defense.
Under Senate rules, an impeachment trial must begin within one day after the House sends its article if the chamber is in session, unless Schumer and McConnell agree to a different timetable.
McConnell reiterated his request on the floor just minutes after Schumer announced the Monday timeline, arguing that the House should wait until next Thursday to transmit the article.
“This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House,” McConnell said. “The sequel cannot be an insufficient Senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself.”
The Kentucky Republican — whose GOP members have been consulting with Trump — said the former president should have had until Feb. 11 to prepare his defense.
The exact format of the Senate’s unprecedented second impeachment trial is still unclear, though lawmakers of both parties say they expect it to take up less time than the three weeks spent on Trump’s first trial in early 2020. Whether the Senate also brings in witnesses is another open question.
A team of Democratic House impeachment managers, who will effectively serve as prosecutors against Trump, are expected to spend several days arguing that the former president played a major role in inciting violence at the Capitol, focusing on a speech he delivered to a pro-Trump rally just hours before rioters breached the complex.
Trump this week began to prepare his defense, hiring attorney Butch Bowers — who has represented several high-profile Republicans in ethics cases — to lead his team.
While Democrats are expected to vote to convict Trump, it’s unclear how many Senate Republicans will join them. Seventeen Republicans will need to join all Democrats in order to convict Trump.
Several GOP senators argue Democrats are stoking further division and are coalescing around the argument that it’s legally dubious to convict a private citizen. But critics of that argument include scholars from the conservative Federal Society.
“It makes no sense whatsoever that a president or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country and then be permitted to resign so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disbar them from future office,” Schumer said Friday.