The president highlighted the importance of the upcoming Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, which is the first nominating contest in the Democratic presidential primaries, in a post on Twitter. During the impeachment trial, Sanders and three other senators who are seeking their party’s nomination will have to attend the trial in Washington for six days each week and won’t be able to use electronic devices.
Trump suggested Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was attempting to aid the 2020 candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden by timing the impeachment trial to keep Sanders, Sen. Elizbeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) from campaigning on the ground.
“They are rigging the election again against Bernie Sanders, just like last time, only even more obviously,” Trump wrote. “They are bringing him out of so important Iowa in order that, as a Senator, he sit through” the trial, giving Biden a “strong edge,” Trump added.
Pelosi has repeatedly denied that politics was a factor in considering impeachment against Trump. She and other Democrats said they withheld the articles of impeachment from the Senate to secure a more fair trial.
“This isn’t about politics at all. This is about patriotism. It’s not about partisanship. It’s about honoring our oath of office,” she said in December during a CNN town hall.
On Thursday, after all 100 senators were sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts, Sanders told reporters that he is worried about losing time ahead of the Iowa caucuses. The New Hampshire primary is just eight days after the Iowa caucuses.
“I would rather be in Iowa today. There’s a caucus there in two-and-a-half weeks. I’d rather be in New Hampshire and Nevada and so forth. But I swore a constitutional oath as a United States senator to do my job and I’m here to do my job,” he said.
Sanders’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment.
A Sanders campaign adviser, Jeff Weaver, said the senator may use a private jet to travel around during the impeachment trial.
“They’re not going to be meeting at night [for the trial], so we can obviously fly from D.C. to states and hold events in the evening and fly back, you know, so he can be back in the morning to do his work in the Senate,” Weaver told NBC News in early January. “He’s an energetic candidate,” he added. “He has a very vigorous schedule, and, you know, he can do that.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Thursday that the trial will begin in earnest on Tuesday, Jan. 21, but it’s not clear how long the trial will take. In 1999, it took five weeks for the Senate to acquit then-President Bill Clinton, although a White House official told reporters that Trump believes it will be finished in just two weeks.