A memo from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is circulating among GOP senators to outline how a Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump would occur, including the potential that the actions to start the proceedings wouldn't take place until after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.
The Washington Post, which has obtained the memo, reports that McConnell's office pointed out the Senate won't come back into session for important business until Jan. 19, the day before Biden's inauguration.
The scenario outlined in the memo would go as follows:
- Jan. 19: The Senate would get the House memo advising the Senate that it has appointed impeachment managers, and the Senate would be ready to get the document.
- Jan. 19 or Jan. 20: House impeachment managers would exhibit the impeachment articles.
- Jan. 20 or Jan. 21: The Senate would move toward considering the articles at 1 p.m. and officially start the trial.
"The Senate trial would therefore begin after President Trump’s term has expired — either one hour after its expiration on January 20, or twenty-five hours after its expiration on January 21," McConnell's memo said.
House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are demanding swift impeachment proceedings after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was in the middle of certifying Electoral College votes for Biden, saying the president encouraged the attacks and remains a danger to the country if he stays in office.
The Senate has pro forma sessions on Jan. 12 and Jan. 15, but is banned from holding any kind of business without agreement from all 100 senators on those days, the memo said. That is not likely to happen with many Republican senators backing the president.
Neither McConnell, R-Ky., nor incoming majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have commented on impeachment proceedings, according to aides.
Meanwhile, it's not known who would preside over a trial of a former president. Senate impeachment rules would require the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in this case, Justice John Roberts, to preside over the trial of a sitting president, the memo notes, but it is "unclear" who would be in charge once the president leaves office.
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