Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are reportedly closing in on a deal to dictate the rules and schedule for former President Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial while Trump’s attorneys are demanding a dismissal on constitutional grounds.
Nothing has been finalized yet. The trial could potentially end almost as quickly as it starts… within a week as long as no witnesses are called to testify.
“We are finalizing a resolution that’s been agreed to by all parties … that will ensure a fair, honest, bipartisan Senate impeachment trial,” Schumer stated at a press conference. He also announced that additional details will be forthcoming on Monday.
Republicans reportedly believe that Trump will be acquitted and that the impeachment trial is mostly for show. It is possible the trial could commence as early as Tuesday allowing for four hours of debate and then a vote to determine its constitutionality. Republicans have vowed to raise the issue of constitutionality for this trial since Trump is no longer a sitting president.
(Source: Associated Press)
If the trial goes as planned, opening arguments will begin on Wednesday at noon. Each side will get 16 hours to present their arguments both for and against impeachment.
The trial will not be held on Saturday due to a request from one of Trump’s attorneys. Instead, it will reconvene on Sunday afternoon. This is in order to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
Impeachment trials are complicated and intricate. It is possible that the Senate could hold a debate and then a vote on whether they should formally call witnesses or not following both sides presenting their case. There will also be time allotted to ask questions which can get lengthy if the last impeachment trial is any measure of the process.
New: McConnell and Schumer close to a deal on trial rules. Some of the details below, per person familiar pic.twitter.com/FbnwKQgltz
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 8, 2021
“If the managers decide they want witnesses there will be a vote on that. That’s what they requested. They weren’t sure they wanted witnesses. They wanted to preserve the option,” Schumer stated.
Senators have made it clear they want this to be a speedy trial and not drawn out as it would potentially bite into their pending one-week recess starting Friday.
The trial may be a moot point because it is not expected that the Democrats can rally 17 votes needed to find Trump guilty concerning the one article of impeachment. That article accuses the former president of high crimes and misdemeanors and extols that he was “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
It is unknown how a number of GOP senators will vote on the matter. That includes McConnell. According to The Hill: “…senators cap the number of GOP senators who could potentially vote to convict Trump at five. That’s the same number who voted with Democrats last month against the effort by Paul to declare the trial unconstitutional.”
This trial will be historic as it is the first impeachment trial of a president who is no longer in office. Constitutional scholars are divided on whether it is unconstitutional. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will preside over the trial as Chief Justice John Roberts has recused himself on constitutional grounds.
Two of Trump’s attorneys are also arguing that his post-presidency trial is unconstitutional. In their initial legal brief, they contend that Trump’s speech ahead of the Capitol riot is protected by the First Amendment and that it does not meet the threshold of an impeachable offense.
“The Article of Impeachment presented by the House is unconstitutional for a variety of reasons, any of which alone would be grounds for immediate dismissal,” the attorneys argued. “Taken together, they demonstrate conclusively that indulging House Democrats’ hunger for this political theater is a danger to our Republic, democracy, and the rights that we hold dear.”
Many Republicans believe the impeachment is indeed unconstitutional. “Is it constitutional? Does the Constitution anticipate a Senate trial of a president who has left office? And I think the overwhelming weight of history and also precedent indicates that it … is not proper,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) told ABC’s “This Week.”
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