The Senate will start President Trump’s second impeachment trial during the week of Feb. 8, Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) announced on Friday.
“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. … Once the briefs are drafted, the presentation by the parties will commence the week of Feb. 8,” Schumer said from the Senate floor.
Schumer’s announcement comes after he disclosed earlier Friday that the House article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate on Monday.
Under the agreement between Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), the article will be read at 7 p.m. on Monday. Senators will be sworn in Tuesday and a summons will be issued to Trump.
Trump’s response to the article and House’s pre-trial brief will be due by Feb. 2, and Trump’s pre-trial brief will be due six days later.
The earliest the trial could start is Feb. 9, when the House’s pre-trial rebuttal is also due.
A spokesman for McConnell argued that the timeline is a win for the GOP leader, who had wanted to delay the trial until mid-February.
“Leader McConnell is glad that Leader Schumer agreed to Republicans’ request for additional time during the pre-trial phase. Especially given the fast and minimal process in the House, Republicans set out to ensure the Senate’s next steps will respect former President Trump’s rights and due process, the institution of the Senate, and the office of the presidency,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for McConnell.
Under McConnell’s proposed timeline, outlined to the GOP conference on a call Thursday, the trial would have started as soon as Feb. 13.
Neither McConnell nor Schumer provided any details about how long they thought the trial should last. Trump’s first impeachment trial in early 2020 lasted 21 days, though most senators do not expect the second trial to last as long.
Democrats are expected to use the delayed start for the second trial to confirm more of President Biden’s Cabinet picks. As of Friday Biden has only gotten two Cabinet picks confirmed: Lloyd Austin to be the Pentagon chief and Avril Haines to be the director of national intelligence.
Democrats had hoped to confirm both Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick to lead the Treasury Department, and Tony Blinken, his pick to be secretary of State, this week, but left town on Friday without taking up either nomination.
“The Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as Cabinet nominations and the COVID relief bill,” Schumer said.
Democrats and even Biden himself had appeared open to delaying the trial until February as they tried to get his administration set up.
“The more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better,” Biden said at the White House on Friday.
The impeachment trial comes after the House made history when it voted to impeach Trump for a second time, making him the first U.S. president to ever be impeached more than once. The House article, which got the support of 10 Republicans, accuses Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors for “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States” after his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Trump addressed the crowd on Jan. 6, repeating his disputed claims of widespread voter fraud and warning them that if “you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Trump then encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol, where then-Vice President Pence and lawmakers were counting the Electoral College vote. Though Trump vowed that he was going to go to the Capitol with them, he instead went back to the White House.
It will take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict Trump at the end of the trial. Though he’s the third president to be impeached, none have ever been successfully convicted in a trial.
Several Republicans, including McConnell, have accused Trump of provoking the mob that stormed the Capitol, but none have said they will vote to convict him.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) called on him to resign, while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has said he’s open to looking at any articles sent over by the House.
Republicans are casting doubt that any more than a handful of their GOP colleagues will ultimately vote to convict, and they appear increasingly confident that trial will end with Trump’s acquittal.
“We kind of have an inkling of what the outcome is going to be. I mean, Democrats this time didn’t even bother to go through the motions of getting sworn testimony and having hearings in the House. This is not a serious effort,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is close to McConnell.
In addition to holding an impeachment trial, Democrats are exploring trying to use the 14th Amendment to bar Trump from holding future office.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said that he thought the odds of getting 67 votes for impeachment were “low,” but in his view, a resolution enacting the 14th Amendment would only require 60 votes, making it more feasible.
“It accomplishes the same practical objective, in all likelihood, with a lower vote threshold requirem
ent,” he said. “And I think not only is the threshold lower, I think you’re more likely to get Republican votes on it.”