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McConnell says Trump impeachment trial to begin next week; refuses emergency session this week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
January 13, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday that the Senate will not be holding an emergency meeting for impeachment this week, but the process will begin at the Senate’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

After the U.S. House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon, McConnell released a statement noting that even if an emergency proceeding was held in the Senate this week, it would not be concluded before Trump leaves office next week.

“The Senate process will now begin at our first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House,” McConnell’s statement said. “Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the ‘quickest’ path for any change in the occupant of the presidency.”

McConnell pointed out that all three presidential impeachment trials have taken 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.

He encouraged lawmakers to spend the next week “completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration.”

Earlier on Wednesday, McConnell said he has not made a decision about how he will vote on impeachment.

“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell said, according to NBC News.

In a vote of 232 to 197, House lawmakers passed the impeachment resolution accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, despite Trump repeating multiple calls for peace and “no violence.”

All Democrat representatives voted in favor, along with 10 Republicans: Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Tom Rice (SC), Dan Newhouse (WA), Peter Meijer (MI), Adam Kinzinger (IL), John Katko (NY), Liz Cheney (WY), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), Fred Upton (MI), and David Valadao (CA) all voted to impeach.

“President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” the document reads. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He therefore betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.” 

The resolution claims Trump “demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

The vote followed more than three hours of debate on Wednesday afternoon.

In their debate on Wednesday, Democrat lawmakers repeated the accusation that Trump was responsible for calling up, organizing, and deploying protesters in the “Stop the Steal” rally, as well as the violent group that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Republicans insisted that Democrats were seeking to “cancel” the president.

Wednesday’s impeachment vote took place the day after the House passed a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office, and to immediately exercise powers as acting president.”

The resolution gave Pence 24 hours to act, after which, Democrats said they would vote on the impeachment articles. However, Pence sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Tuesday night in which he said he would not take the measure.

In his letter, reported by CNN, Pence said the 25th Amendment “is not a means of punishment or usurpation” and invoking it would “set a terrible precedent.” He added, “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.”