McConnell Proposes Pre-Trial Timeline to Schumer on Trump Impeachment

McConnell Proposes Pre-Trial Timeline to Schumer on Trump Impeachment
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 21, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Zachary Stieber

The impeachment pre-trial for former President Donald Trump should not start until February, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

McConnell sent a timeline to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that gives Trump one week from Jan. 28 to formally respond to the article of impeachment the House of Representatives passed. The House would submit its pre-trial brief on Feb. 4, to be answered by Trump one week later. Finally, the House would have two days to submit their rebuttal pre-trial brief.

The timeline is similar in structure to those in Trump’s first impeachment trial and the trial of former President Bill Clinton.

“Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake,” McConnell said in a statement.

“Given the unprecedented speed of the House’s process, our proposed timeline for the initial phases includes a modest and reasonable amount of additional time for both sides to assemble their arguments before the Senate would begin to hear them,” he added.

“At this time of strong political passions, Senate Republicans believe it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to short-circuit the due process that former President Trump deserves or damage the Senate or the presidency.”

House Democrats voted to impeach Trump on Jan. 13. They were joined by 10 House Republicans. The vote to impeach was 232–197, with every Democrat voting in favor of impeachment. It marked the first time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached twice.

The single article of impeachment alleges that the president incited an insurrection that resulted in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
A mob had breached the building before Trump had finished giving a speech to a large crowd of supporters more than a 30-minute walk away, a timeline of the day by The Epoch Times shows. Trump had urged the public to act “peacefully and patriotically” on that day, and repeatedly condemned the violence at the U.S. Capitol after the incident.

Senate Democrats wanted to start the trial immediately after the House impeached Trump on Jan. 13 but could not because McConnell declined to agree to call the Senate back into session.

A trial cannot start at this time because the House hasn’t transmitted the article of impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has refused to say when that will happen.

Schumer told reporters in Washington earlier Thursday that Pelosi will decide on when to transmit.

“Leader McConnell and I are trying to come up with a bipartisan agreement to conduct a trial, but make no mistake about it, there will be a trial. There will be a vote up or down on whether to convict the president. I believe he should be convicted. We'll have to wait till she sends the articles over to figure out how to do all that,” Schumer said.

Trump left office on Jan. 20, but Senate leaders are determined to press forward anyways, with an eye towards disqualifying him from holding office in the future.

A conviction requires a supermajority vote. Democrats hold 50 seats in the Senate and Republicans also hold 50. A handful of Republicans have said they’re open to convicting Trump, including McConnell.

No president in U.S. history has ever been convicted.

If the threshold is not met, Trump will be acquitted for the second time. If he’s convicted, senators can then choose to disqualify him.

Trump, meanwhile, chose South Carolina-based lawyer Butch Bowers as his lead attorney, adviser Jason Miller confirmed.

Bowers has represented a number of GOP lawmakers in the past, including then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in 2012.

“Butch is well respected by both Republicans and Democrats and will do an excellent job defending President Trump,” Miller said in a tweet.