Trump Impeachment: Senate Will Conduct ‘Timely, Fair Trial,’ Schumer Says

Date: 2021-01-25 21:24:17

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A growing number of Republican senators say they oppose holding an impeachment trial, a sign of the dimming chances that former President Donald Trump will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the U.S. Capitol.

House Democrats will carry the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol Monday evening, a rare, ceremonial walk to the Senate by the prosecutors who will argue the case. They are hoping that strong Republican denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 riot will translate into a conviction and a separate vote to bar Trump from holding office again.

But GOP feelings appear to have cooled since the insurrection. Now that Trump’s presidency is over, a number of the Republican senators who will serve along with Democrats as jurors in the trial are speaking out against it, as they did during his first impeachment trial last year.

“All indications seem to suggest that it will be very difficult to get 17 Republican senators to vote to convict. That’s the number that they would need,” said Julie Pace, the Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief.

Trump is the first former president to face an impeachment trial, and it will test his grip on the Republican Party as well as the legacy of his tenure, which came to a close as a mob of loyal supporters heeded his rally cry by storming the Capitol and trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election. The proceedings will also force Democrats, who have a full sweep of party control of the White House and Congress, to balance their promise to hold the former president accountable while also rushing to deliver on Biden’s priorities.

Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8.

Leaders in both parties agreed to the short delay to give Trump’s team and House prosecutors time to prepare and the Senate the chance to confirm some of Biden’s Cabinet nominees. Democrats say the extra days will allow for more evidence to come out about the rioting by Trump supporters, while Republicans hope to craft a unified defense for Trump.

“That’s what I expect from Republicans in the coming days and weeks, much more focused on process and much less focus on the substance of defending Trump’s actions,” Pace said.

Now that Trump is a private citizen, Pace said he has lost access to resources like the Justice Department which Trump used to his advantage during his first Senate impeachment trial about one year ago.

“I think we should note, he also does not have Twitter, which has really been the main mechanism for Trump to defend himself both during his first impeachment, but also just against all manner of other issues that have come up,” Pace said. “We’re not hearing much of a defense from him at this point.”

Republicans are also confronting profound questions about what the party stands for without Donald Trump in charge.

Primary challenges could leave the party with congressional nominees next year who are even further to the right, potentially imperiling the GOP’s grip on races they might otherwise win.

“Republicans, as they weigh their own future, also would like a little bit of space to do that,” Pace said. “They know that they have this major decision to make about how influential Trump and Trumpism is in the party going forward.”

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