- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2021

The House will deliver its article of impeachment for former President Donald Trump to senators on Monday, setting up a trial that could end with his banishment from ever holding federal office again.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had informed him of her decision, which comes more than a week after she led the House in approving the single article accusing Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection.

“The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a full trial. It will be a fair trial. But make no mistake, there will be a trial,” Mr. Schumer said.

Democrats’ decision comes even though there’s no agreement on how to hold a trial, and it presages weeks of chaos as the Senate tries to figure things out on the fly.

For starters, Republicans said, it means there can be no other floor work done on confirming President Biden’s Cabinet team, or working on other parts of his agenda.

Under the rules, absent an agreement to set a new schedule, the impeachment trial would begin Tuesday and would dominate the Senate’s business.

“If the impeachment articles come over Monday, the opportunity for President Biden to get a Cabinet in place is done until impeachment is done,” said Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, suggested the Senate adopt a lengthy timetable with weeks of briefs being exchanged before a trial actually begins.

He said a longer timeframe is needed because the House moved so precipitously that it short-circuited Mr. Trump’s rights and never gave him a chance to defend himself.

Mr. Schumer said he’s negotiating with Mr. McConnell, but didn’t say whether he agreed with the Republican’s timetable.

The House revealed its impeachment charge on Jan. 11 and pushed it through two days later, without any hearings and just a few hours of floor debate. Democrats had insisted the need to oust Mr. Trump before he could do any damage in his final days was too great.

Now, though, with Mr. Trump out of office, the dynamic has changed, and Democrats are working out how to proceed.

Mr. McConnell on Thursday had proposed having Mrs. Pelosi send over the articles late next week.

She countered with her decision to transmit them early in the week.

Republicans suggested the haphazard manner could end up helping Mr. Trump avoid a conviction.

“Well, it takes two thirds, right, to convict, so it’s kind of like the first time around. We kind of have an inkling of what the outcome is going to be,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican. “I mean Democrats this time didn’t even bother to go through the motions of getting sworn testimony and having hearings in the House. This is not a serious effort.”

Several Republicans urged Mrs. Pelosi to just pocket the impeachment and not send it over, saying that would be the best avenue for allowing Mr. Biden to pursue his agenda.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly rejected that idea, saying he will leave it to Congress to punish his predecessor.

Mrs. Pelosi said she felt a “solemn duty” to send the article of impeachment to the Senate.

Republicans question whether a president no longer in office can even face a trial.

The Constitution does allow a secondary punishment of banishment from future office. But there is a disagreement about whether that punishment is contingent on throwing someone out of office in the first place.

Only once, in the case of a War Department secretary in the 1870s, has a former official been tried on impeachment charges in the Senate. He was acquitted.

Mr. Schumer, though, said he believes such a trial is allowed. He said it would make no sense to allow an officeholder to escape culpability and preserve future job prospects by resigning to avoid a trial.

The New York Democrat cast the decision facing senators as one purely about whether Mr. Trump bore any responsibility for the mob of his supporters that attacked Congress on Jan. 6.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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