President Biden on Friday suggested he would accept waiting until next month to begin the Senate impeachment trial of former President Trump, reasoning it would allow more time to get his own administration “up and running.”
Biden said he had not seen the specifics of a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to begin the trial in February, but “the more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better.”
“I do think that having some time to get our administration up and running — I want to thank the Senate for passing out our secretary of Defense, it looks like our secretary of Treasury, our secretary of State is in place,” he said, though only the head of the Pentagon has officially been confirmed.
The House is expected to deliver its article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, meaning the trial could begin as soon as next week.
Under the rules for an impeachment trial, the article moving to the Senate triggers the start of the trial at 1 p.m. the following day, except for Sundays. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he is having discussions with McConnell about the timing and length of the trial.
McConnell proposed on a call with GOP senators Thursday that the trial be delayed until February to give the former president enough time to mount a defense.
“It would have been the 10th or 11th [of February] or somewhere in there,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who said McConnell wants to give Trump the same amount of time he had to prepare for the first impeachment trial and that former President Clinton had to prepare for his 1999 impeachment trial.
Biden and his top aides have publicly been non-committal about the dynamics of the impeachment trial, repeatedly deferring to Senate leaders to hash out how to handle Trump’s fate. But they have been insistent that the upper chamber should be able to simultaneously conduct Trump’s trial while also working to confirm Biden’s nominees and negotiate on an economic relief bill proposed by the current administration.
The Senate has thus far only confirmed Lloyd Austin as Defense secretary and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Janet Yellen’s nomination as Treasury secretary cleared committee on Friday, but has not yet been voted on by the full Senate.