Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday announced that former President Trump’s impeachment trial will begin the week of Feb. 8 — after President Biden indicated he wanted a two-week delay to focus on getting his administration up and running, New York Post reports.
The New York Democrat said on the Senate floor that Trump’s legal team will have two weeks to prepare a defense arguing he’s innocent of inciting this month’s Capitol riot. Schumer said legislation and Biden’s nominees can pass in the meantime.
“The House [impeachment] managers will come to read the article of impeachment at 7 pm on Monday, Jan. 25. Members will then be sworn in the next day, Tuesday, Jan. 26. After that, both the House managers and the defense will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials,” Schumer said. “During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as Cabinet nominations and the COVID relief bill, which would provide relief for millions of Americans who are suffering during this pandemic.”
Schumer said that “once the briefs are drafted, presentation by the parties will commence the week of February the 8th.”
Schumer argued that Trump must be found guilty during the trial, which could stoke partisanship at a time when Biden and Democrats are promoting a message of national unity. He argued, however, that the trial would allow the country to move on.
“The Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol incited by Donald J. Trump was the day none of us will ever forget. We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us. But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide.”
Hours earlier, Biden had indicated he would prefer that delayed timeframe.
“The more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better,” Biden said in response to a reporter’s question about whether the trial should be tabled for two weeks as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) had called for a day earlier.
The Capitol riot disrupted certification of Biden’s victory. It followed a speech by Trump to thousands of supporters near the White House. He urged them to “fight like hell” to persuade legislators to overturn Biden’s Electoral College victory.
McConnell said in a recent statement that he’s undecided on the trial.
The impeachment managers presenting at the trial include Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), the often Republican-bashing member of the House intelligence committee recently ensnared in controversy over his relationship with a suspected Chinese spy named Fang Fang.
At least 17 Senate Republicans would have to vote to convict in order for Trump to be found guilty — a steep climb. If he’s convicted, he could be barred from holding office ever again by a simple majority vote.