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Schumer says Trump impeachment trial will begin week of Feb. 8

Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y) makes opening remarks during a hearing attended by a panel of Department of Homeland Security senior officials. Jan. 20, 2016. (CBP Photo by Glenn Fawcett)
January 22, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate’s impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will begin the week of Feb. 8 after the House’s article of impeachment is delivered to the upper chamber next week.

The Senate reached an agreement to push back the trial two weeks from its originally planned date of January 26, allowing Trump’s legal team additional time to prepare for the trial, and the Senate to work on coronavirus relief and Biden Cabinet confirmations.

“We have made good progress in our efforts to determine the timing and structure of the impeachment trial of Donald J Trump,” Schumer said while announcing the schedule Friday afternoon.

“I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Friday morning.

The trial’s length will depend on witnesses and questioning. Trump’s 2020 impeachment trial lasted three weeks.

Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed delaying the trial until next month to allow Trump’s legal team adequate time to organize.

Schumer’s push for the impeachment trial puts a deadline on broader negotiations regarding the Senate’s power-sharing agreement that involves a fight over the filibuster.

McConnell has insisted that a provision protecting the filibuster be included in the Senate’s organizing resolution, a move Schumer said was “Unacceptable – and it won’t be accepted.”

Some senators argued that the impeachment trial would slow down the process of confirming Biden Cabinet nominees.

“We won’t be doing any confirmations, we won’t be doing any Covid-19 relief, we won’t be doing anything else other than impeaching a person who’s not even president,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

According to Cornyn, GOP leaders in the Senate had not consented to splitting the trial up to confirm nominations around the impeachment proceedings.

Senate Republicans also recently argued that an impeachment trial for a president that is no longer in office is unconstitutional, but Schumer pushed back on the claims despite legal scholars established precedent.

“The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump,” Schumer said. “It will be a full trial. It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial, and when that trial ends, senators will have to decide if they believe Donald John Trump incited the insurrection against the United States.”

On Friday, McConnell said the Senate should provide Trump with a “full and fair process” in building his defense against the impeachment.

“This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House. The sequel cannot be an insufficient senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself,” McConnell said. “Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake.”

This article originally reflected the fact that Senate originally planned the impeachment trial to begin on the week of Jan. 26, 2021. The article and headline were updated after the Senate announced the trial will actually begin on the week of Feb. 8, 2021.