Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she will send the impeachment article against Donald Trump to the Senate in ‘a few days’ so his trial can begin.
That would put the start date sometime next week in what could be a speedy trial as Republican senators say there are not enough members in their party willing to convict the former president.
Pelosi said she’ll be talking with the House impeachment managers ‘in the next few days’ about when ‘the Senate will be ready’ to receive the article.
‘We will be in another few days, when I’ll be talking with managers, as to when the Senate will be ready for the trial of the then President of the United States for his role in instigating an insurrection on the House, on the Capital of the United States, on our democracy to undermine the will of the people,’ she said.
The speaker said she was waiting on President Joe Biden’s inauguration to take place and for the Senate to return to session. With Kamala Harris becoming vice president, Democrats now control the upper chamber.
‘We had to wait for the president, the Senate to be in session. They’ve now informed us they’re ready to receive. The question is, other questions about how a trial will proceed. But we are, we are ready,’ she said at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will send the impeachment article against Donald Trump to the Senate in ‘a few days’ so his trial can begin
Former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate could last a mere three days once it gets started – the start date remains unclear
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell are still working out a power-sharing agreement for the 50-50, evenly divided chamber. There are also questions over who would preside over Trump’s trial when it begins.
WHERE THE GOP SENATORS STAND
To get a two-thirds majority of every voting senator Democrats need at least 17 Republicans, assuming all Democrats vote to convict. None of the 50-member GOP caucus has said they will vote to convict. Here are some of those in play.
COULD VOTE TO CONVICT
Mitt Romney (Utah)
Voted to convict before and slammed Trump’s actions after riot
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
Said Trump should quit over the riot. Already survived a primary defeat
Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)
Publicly OKed his caucus voting guilty and says he is genuinely undecided
Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)
Not running again and already condemned Trump’s conduct
Richard Burr (North Carolina)
Not running and said Trump ‘bears responsibility’
Ben Sasse (Nebraska)
Targeted before by Trump, slammed GOP leaders for violence already
Susan Collins (Maine)
Moderate who said when she acquitted first time Trump had ‘learned a lesson’
John Thune (South Dakota)
Number two in the Senate caucus, already target of Trump demand for a primary
Roy Blunt (Missouri)
Called riot ‘darkest stain’ and ‘unpardonable.’ State GOP establishment is furious at Josh Hawley
Richard Shelby (Alabama)
At 86 considered unlikely to run again. Called riot ‘dark day’
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Called attack ‘assault on democracy.’ Up in 2022, never a Trump loyalist
James Inhofe (Oklahoma)
Apologized to black voters for planning to overturn election
Chuck Grassley (Iowa)
Oldest GOP senator at 87 and unclear if he plans to run again
Kevin Cramer (North Dakota)
Said Trump voters ‘want my head off’ for not overturning election
Mike Lee (Utah)
Legal conservative, represents state where Trump wasn’t personally popular
Thom Tillis (North Carolina)
Not up for election until 2026 in purple state
Marco Rubio (Florida)
Up in 2022 and could face Ivanka; convicting her father might help
Mike Braun (Indiana)
Friend of Mike Pence, could be moved by calls for him to ‘hang’
LEANING TO NO
John Cornyn (Texas)
Not personally loyal to Trump but also called trial ‘bad idea’
Joni Ernst (Iowa)
Says she doubts trial is constitutional but will listen to arguments
Tom Cotton (Arkansas)
Called trial unconstitutional
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
Says impeaching will destroy GOP
When pressed on if she could be more specific on when she will transmit the article, Pelosi responded: ‘Nope.’
‘There’s no use asking. I’m not going to be telling you when it is going,’ she noted.
Pelosi, who had a contentious relationship with Trump throughout his presidency and already impeached him once, castigated the former president for his role in the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill.
Schumer said Thursday he is waiting on Pelosi to send the article over but noted he and McConnell are talking about how the trial will proceed.
‘Leader McConnell and I are trying to come up with a bipartisan agreement on how to conduct the trial. But make no mistake about it, there will be a trial, there will be a vote up or down on whether to convict the president,’ he said.
He added they were waiting on Pelosi.
‘We’ll have to wait until she sends the article over to figure out how to do all that,’ he said.
Former President Trump’s impeachment trial could last a mere three days once the Senate begins the proceedings.
Trump, on Wednesday, spent his first afternoon out of office at his Mar-a-Lago residence on the phone with allies. He had two queries: asking if GOP senators will vote to bar him from ever running for office again, two people with knowledge of the calls told The Daily Beast. He also asked what lawyers should represent him in trial.
The former president is having trouble finding a legal team to represent him. Members of his first impeachment legal team, including Jay Sekulow and former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, aren’t interested.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina revealed the news on conference call with GOP senators on Thursday afternoon, Punchbowl News reported.
Butch Bowers is a former chairman of the state Election Commission and an attorney who specializes in election issues. He also served as counsel in Florida for John McCain’s president campaign, did work for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and serves as a Judge Advocate for the South Carolina Air National Guard, according to his website.
His hiring will likely raise questions about whether Trump will want to try to revive his false claims that the election was fraudulent and stolen from him.
‘I think he’s going to get a legal team here pretty soon,’ Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
He said his advice to Trump’s legal team would be to focus on the constitutional question of whether or not a former president can be tried for treason.
‘I’d make that argument. There’s a lot of support in the law, legal, academic types,’ he said. ‘We’ll make our own decisions about did the president go too far, was this incitement under the law, what’s the right outcome there? So it should be a quick trial really, quite frankly.’
He said of Trump: ‘I don’t think he believes he played a role in the defiling of the Capitol. I think the argument that the election was stolen was overdone and got people ginned up, I think he’s responsible for that, but people’s decision to come here and take over the place, that lies with them. But his last couple of statements have been good, you know, rejecting violence.’
Other lawyers who have defended Trump in the past – including former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, Eric Herschmann, Pat Philbin and Marc Kasowitz – aren’t interested, Bloomberg Law reported.
It’s also unclear what role Rudy Giuliani, the president’s private attorney, would play.
Giuliani told ABC News he would defend the president but other reports indicated Trump wasn’t sure he wanted the former New York City mayor on his team.
Trump will face trial on the charges of ‘incitement of insurrection’ for his role in the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill, where his MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol building, interrupting the certification of the election. The insurrection resulted in five deaths, hundreds injured and damage throughout the Capitol, including smashed windows, broken furniture and destroyed offices.
Lawmakers have privately discussed a three-day impeachment trial, Politico’s Playbook reported, which would be a record for any such matter.
Some consider the case open-and-shut given Trump’s actions on the day of riot. In comparison, the president’s first impeachment trial was a web to untangle regarding his call to the Ukrainian president and the legalities there.
At a rally the morning of riot, Trump told his supporters to march on the Capitol – a speech that resulted in many Republicans blaming him for the subsequent mob. Both McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy have said Trump shouldered some of the blame for the thousands of supporters that swarmed the building.
But a speedy trial also has its benefits.
Republicans don’t believe there are 16 votes to convict the president – the number of senators needed to join Democrats. And many are ready to move on from their former president.
‘Some people are for censure, some are for [convicting Trump], some say it’s unconstitutional. People are all over the place,’ a Republican senator told Punchbowl.
Notably, unlike Trump’s last impeachment trial, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is telling senators to vote their conscience – a dramatic difference from last year when McConnell actively worked to acquit Trump when he was impeached the first time.
An alternative would be for senators to vote to disqualify Trump from holding future office. The Senate could apply that punishment by a simple majority vote, but only if two-thirds of senators first found Trump guilty. It’s an option that could appeal to many Republican senators since it would prevent Trump from running for president again in 2024.
A short trial would also allow the Senate, now controlled by Democrats, to focus on President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda and confirming his Cabinet nominees.
Biden’s ambitious legislative plans include a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan and reforming immigration.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (left) said he spoke to Trump and the former president was struggling to find a legal team to defend him
Members of Trump’s first impeachment legal team, including attorney Jay Sekulow, center, stands with his son, Jordan Sekulow, left, and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone have indicated they are not interested in representing Trump again
It’s unclear what role Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani would play
White House press secretary Jen Psaki down played concerns Trump’s trail would overshadow President Biden’s first weeks in office
The White House is downplaying any questions about concerns Trump’s trial could overshadow their first weeks in office.
‘We are confident that … the Senate … can do their constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the American people,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her first briefing.
‘He’s going to leave the mechanics, the timing and the specifics of how Congress moves forward on impeachment to them,’ she noted.
Senator Dick Dubin, a member of the Democratic leadership, told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday morning it’s unclear when they’ll receive the article and what form the trial will take.
‘It’s still unresolved as to when she’s sending it over. It could be today, unlikely. Could be tomorrow. And then what we’re going to do with it, is whether or not it’s going to be a full blown trial with evidence and witnesses. Or quote expedited whatever that means that final decision isn’t even closed,’ he said.
There’s also the issue of whether Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial.
The Constitution states that ‘When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside.’
But Trump is a former president, which could give Roberts a way out of presiding.
That would put Vice President Kamala Harris as next in line to preside over the trial, in her constitutional role as the Senate’s presiding officer.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer seems unlikely to ask Harris to do it.
It is up to the Senate to set the rules of the trial and if the two party leaders, Schumer and McConnell, want to see Roberts preside, it is difficult to see how he would not, short of formally turning down their request.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who serves as president pro temp, is another potential candidate.
Schumer and McConnell are in talks about a possible power-sharing deal governing daily Senate operations, similar to one struck two decades ago.