President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could begin on Inauguration Day next Wednesday as President-elect Joe Biden is being sworn into office. That’s according to a timeline of Senate procedure obtained by the Associated Press.
It’s the possible schedule if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the articles of impeachment to the Senate soon.
Trump was impeached by the House on Wednesday on a single charge of incitement to insurrection after the deadly Capitol siege last week by a pro-Trump mob. He is the only president ever to be impeached twice.
Pelosi hasn’t said when she’ll send the impeachment charge to the Senate. Some Democrats have suggested holding back to allow Biden time to be inaugurated and to start working on his priorities first.
Biden has suggested the Senate could divide its time between the impeachment trial and confirming his Cabinet nominees and working on COVID-19 relief and other issues.
Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol for Wednesday’s vote and was bolstered by armed National Guard troops. Secure perimeters were set up and metal-detector screenings required for lawmakers entering the House chamber. A handful of Republicans supported impeachment along with the Democrats.
The soonest that Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House and the day when Biden is inaugurated. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.
McConnell isn’t ruling out that he might eventually vote to convict Trump.
If the Senate were to convict, lawmakers could then take a separate vote on whether to disqualify Trump from holding future office.
In the case of federal judges who were impeached and removed from office, the Senate has taken a second vote after conviction to determine whether to bar the person from ever holding federal office again.
Only a majority of senators would be needed to ban him from future office, unlike the two-thirds needed to convict.