WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to send the article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, launching the start of the former president’s trial on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the deadly Capitol riot.
“There will be a trial,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in making the announcement Friday. “It will be a full trial, it will be a fair trial.”
Trump is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office.
While the transmission of the article launches the trial proceedings, the schedule ahead remains uncertain as the Senate, now in Democratic control, is also working to swiftly confirm President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees and tackle the new administration’s legislative priorities.
Biden says the Senate can do both and Schumer said he also speaking to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell about the “timing and duration” of the proceedings ahead.
“Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process,” McConnell said after Schumer spoke. On Thursday he proposed delaying the start of Trump’s trial to February to give the former president time to prepare and review his case. Trump is still assembling his legal team.
House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot say a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said it was still too early to know how long a trial would take or if Democrats would want to call witnesses. But he said, “You don’t need to tell us what was going on with the mob scene we were rushing down the staircase to escape.”
McConnell, who said this week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote. He told his GOP colleagues that it will be a vote of conscience.
Democrats would need the support of at least 17 Republicans to convict Trump, a high bar. While a handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open to conviction, most have said they believe a trial will be divisive and questioned the legality of trying a president after he has left office.
Graham said that if he were Trump’s lawyer, he would focus on that argument and on the merits of the case — and whether it was “incitement” under the law.
“I guess the public record is your television screen,” Graham said. “So, I don’t see why this would take a long time.”