Schumer Announces Bipartisan Agreement on Rules, Time Frame for Impeachment Trial

February 8, 2021 Updated: February 8, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he reached a deal with Senate Republicans on Monday on the framework for the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

“All parties have agreed to a structure that will ensure a fair and honest Senate impeachment trial of the former president,” Schumer said on Monday.

Schumer said he consulted with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Democratic impeachment managers, and lawyers for Trump. McConnell, on the floor, confirmed a deal is in place that preserves due process.

“I’m pleased that Leader Schumer and I were able to reach an agreement on a fair process and estimated timeline for the upcoming Senate trial,” McConnell said on Monday afternoon. “It will give senators as jurors ample time to receive the case and the arguments.”

According to the lawmakers, there will be four hours of debate on Tuesday about whether the trial should be dismissed. Several weeks ago, 45 GOP senators voted to reject holding the impeachment trial, suggesting that the former president will not be convicted—as the Senate requires 67 votes to convict a president.

After that, there will be up to 16 hours for each side to present their cases starting on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET. Then, there will be a total of four hours for senators to question both sides. Should witnesses or documents be subpoenaed, more time may be allotted.

Then, up to four hours will be allotted between the impeachment managers and Trump’s defense, according to Schumer.

Lawyers for Trump on Monday filed a written argument saying the trial is merely “political theater,” adding that it is unconstitutional to impeach a former president. Democrats have rejected the idea and said they want the trial to serve as a referendum against Trump while ensuring he cannot hold office again.

“Taken together, they demonstrate conclusively that indulging House Democrats hunger for this political theater is a danger to our Republic democracy and the rights that we hold dear,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

The impeachment “was only ever a selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion that fell upon all Americans across the entire political spectrum upon seeing the destruction at the Capitol on January 6 by a few hundred people,” Trump’s lawyers added on Monday. “Instead of acting to heal the nation, or at the very least focusing on prosecuting the lawbreakers who stormed the Capitol, the Speaker of the House and her allies have tried to callously harness the chaos of the moment for their own political gain.”

It’s not clear if there will be witnesses called during the event.

“If managers decide they want witnesses, there will be a vote on that, which is the option they requested,” Schumer said. “As in previous trials, there will be equal time for senator questions and for closing arguments and an opportunity for the Senate to hold deliberations if it so chooses and then we will vote on the article of impeachment,” he added.

The House impeached Trump last month for allegedly inciting an insurrection during the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol. Trump, for his part, called on supporters to make their voices heard peacefully.

Democratic impeachment managers have argued that Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Capitol incident, adding that the “Framers’ intent, the text of the Constitution, and prior Congressional practice all confirm that President Trump must stand trial for his constitutional crimes committed in office.”