Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that the House’s article of impeachment against President Donald Trump will be delivered to the Senate on Monday, in what some constitutional law experts have said is an impossible task.
“I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the article will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Friday, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Hours later, Pelosi confirmed that the article will indeed be transferred on Jan. 25.
“Our Constitution and our country are well served by the extraordinary leadership of Lead Manager Jamie Raskin, and Representatives Diana DeGette, David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Lieu, Stacey Plaskett, Madeleine Dean, and Joe Neguse,” she said in a statement, referencing her impeachment managers. “We are respectful of the Senate’s constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process, noting that the former president will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers.”
It means that the Senate would start the trial at around 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday unless the Senate reaches an agreement to push back the trial. During the last impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the trial, but it’s not clear whether he will this time around.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed delaying the trial until February to give Trump’s legal team time to prepare.
Some Republican senators balked at the prospect.
“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 (R-Texas), a member of the Republican leadership, according to CNN.
The prospect of impeaching a former president is unprecedented and goes against the Constitution, some experts have said, including Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz.
“Now that Donald Trump is a private citizen, the Senate should dismiss the article of impeachment against him for lack of jurisdiction,” Dershowitz, who helped defend Trump during his first Senate trial in 2020, wrote for the Wall Street Journal this week. “The Constitution is clear: ‘The president . . . shall be removed from office on impeachment . . . and conviction”—not by the expiration of his term before the impeachment process is complete. It also mandates that ‘judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal and disqualification’—not or disqualification.”
But Schumer has maintained that it’s not unconstitutional to impeach a former president.
“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.”
Schumer didn’t elaborate on the length or on the format of the proceedings.
Meanwhile, Jason Miller, a political aide to Trump, wrote on Twitter that Butch Bowers, a South Carolina defense attorney, joined Trump’s legal defense team. The House previously voted to impeach Trump, claiming that his speech incited violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 during the Joint Session of Congress.
McConnell said he wants to push back the trial to February to give Trump time to mount a defense.
“This impeachment began with an unprecedentedly fast and minimal process over in the House,” McConnell said on Friday. “The sequel cannot be an insufficient Senate process that denies former President Trump his due process or damages the Senate or the presidency itself.”
Earlier on Friday, the Senate voted to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as President Joe Biden’s Pentagon chief. Biden is also pushing lawmakers to pass a $1.9 trillion CCP virus spending package.