Washington, Jan 22 (efe-epa).- Substantive proceedings in the US Senate impeachment trial of now-former President Donald Trump will begin on Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday.
Prosecutors appointed by the House of Representatives, known as impeachment managers, will formally present the single article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday evening.
On Tuesday, the 100 senators will be sworn-in as jurors, but the trial proper will not get under way until the second week of February, Schumer said.
The Senate will use the intervening time to consider President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees and the new administration’s proposal for a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, the New York Democrat said.
“We want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us,” Schumer said. “But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability, and that is what this trial will provide.”
The resolution for the history-making second impeachment of Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection passed the Democratic-controlled House on Jan. 13, a week after a mob of his supporters invaded the Capitol, leading to five deaths.
The Jan. 6 riot occurred hours after a “Stop the Steal” rally where the-then president encouraged his partisans to march on the Capitol as Congress was meeting to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Trump had spent the months following the Nov. 3 election repeating evidence-free claims of massive fraud.
Friday’s Senate session began with Schumer’s announcement that the House would convey the article of impeachment to the upper chamber next week.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had urged the House to delay sending the article of impeachment until mid-February, objected to the idea of starting the trial next week.
“Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake,” the Kentucky lawmaker said three days after blaming Trump for the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
Ten Republicans united with the Democratic majority in the House to impeach Trump, but it remains unclear whether the Senate – evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats – will muster the two-thirds majority necessary for conviction.
Despite a 50-50 split, Democrats control the upper chamber thanks to the participation of Vice President Kamala Harris in her constitutional role as president of the Senate.
Even so, the smooth functioning of the Senate depends on agreement between Democrats and Republican on procedural matters and negotiations on that front have been contentious.
McConnell wants Democrats to pledge not to do away with the filibuster, a legislative mechanism that effectively requires 60 votes to pass a bill, but Schumer said Friday that the Republican leader’s “unacceptable” proposal would not be accepted.
Democrats say that the rationale for going forward with a Senate trial after Trump has left the presidency is to disqualify him from holding political office in the future.
Imposing that penalty would require a separate vote following a hypothetical conviction of the real estate mogul-turned-politician.
Trump was impeached by the House in late 2019 on one charge of abuse of power stemming from an allegation that he sought personal political gain that year by improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce a corruption investigation into then-candidate Biden and his son Hunter.
He also faced a separate charge of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
In the first trial, only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, voted to convict. EFE