Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection for the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule Friday evening after reaching an agreement with Republicans, who had pushed to delay the trial to give Trump a chance to organize his legal team and prepare a defense.
Trump will be the first former president to face an impeachment trial after leaving office.
Under the timeline, the House will transmit the impeachment article against Trump late Monday, with initial proceedings Tuesday, but opening arguments will be pushed to February, which also allows the Senate time to confirm President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominations and consider the COVID relief bill.
“We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us,” Schumer said about the deadly Capitol siege.
“But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide.”
Earlier in the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated she’d send the article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the former president’s trial on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Schumer, announcing her intentions, initially rebuffed Republicans’ proposal to push the proceedings to mid-February to give Trump more time to prepare his case. Schumer said there will be “a full trial,” and “it will be a fair trial.”
Unlike any in history, Trump’s impeachment trial would be the first of a U.S. president no longer in office, an undertaking that his Senate Republican allies argue is pointless, and potentially even unconstitutional. Democrats say they have to hold Trump to account, even as they pursue new President Joe Biden’s legislative priorities, because of the gravity of what took place — a violent attack on the U.S. Congress aimed at overturning an election.
The urgency to hold Trump responsible has been somewhat complicated by Democrats’ simultaneous need to get Biden’s government in place and start quick work on his coronavirus aid package. Biden said Friday he’d be agreeable to a delay if it would allow more time to put his government together and see his Cabinet nominations all approved.
“The more time we have to get up and running … the better,” Biden said Friday in brief comments to reporters.
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