House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will deliver an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday.
Trump left office Wednesday when President Joe Biden was inaugurated, raising legal questions over whether the Senate can place Trump on trial to remove him from an office he no longer holds. Discussions are still ongoing in the Senate when the trial will take place.
Schumer says Pelosi will deliver impeachment articles to Senate on Monday and trial will proceed
"It makes no sense whatsoever that a president, or any official, could commit a heinous crime against our country and then be permitted to resign so as to avoid account ability" pic.twitter.com/dFpU4v9PKb
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 22, 2021
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed postponing the impeachment trial until mid-February to give time to Trump’s legal team to come up with a defense to House impeachment managers’ accusations. The House, which passed an impeachment article alleging the former president incited a Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, expedited the article without conducting an investigation.
According to The Daily Wire:
Under McConnell’s proposed pre-trial timeline, the impeachment article would be read before the Senate on January 28. Trump would then have to respond by February 4, and after he responds, would have another week (February 11 at the latest) to submit a pre-trial brief. The House, meanwhile, would be required to submit a pre-trial brief by February 4, and a rebuttal pre-trial brief by February 13.
McConnell said that Senate Republicans are “united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake.”
“Given the unprecedented speed of the House’s process, our proposed timeline for the initial phases includes a modest and reasonable amount of additional time for both sides to assemble their arguments before the Senate would begin to hear them,” he continued. “At this time of strong political passions, Senate Republicans believe it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to short-circuit the due process that former President Trump deserves or damage the Senate or the presidency.”
Legal scholars have questioned whether holding an impeachment trial after the president is out of office is legal under the Constitution. Michael Luttig, a former judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, argued in a Jan. 12 op-ed that the Senate cannot put Trump on trial after President Joe Biden was inaugurated.
“It appears that even if the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump this week, the Senate trial on that impeachment will not begin until after Trump has left office and President-Elect Biden has become president on Jan. 20,” Luttig wrote. “That Senate trial would be unconstitutional.”
“Once Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20, Congress loses its constitutional authority to continue impeachment proceedings against him — even if the House has already approved articles of impeachment,” he said. “Therefore, if the House of Representatives were to impeach the president before he leaves office, the Senate could not thereafter convict the former president and disqualify him under the Constitution from future public office.”
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Author: Tim Pearce