The Senate Republicans need to postpone the impeachment proceedings towards Trump till February. From Reuters
© Reuters. Visits the inauguration events of Biden at the US Capitol in Washington
By Careful Brice and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Republicans on Thursday asked Democrats to postpone the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump until mid-February to give him time to prepare a defense against the incitement charge.
That move came after Democrats said earlier in the day that the House of Representatives could send to the Senate as early as Friday the impeachment lawsuit issued last week in response to the deadly assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters.
Trump, a Republican, left office Wednesday and flew to his Florida resort hours before Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in.
Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader of the Republican Senate, asked the Democrats to postpone the indictment until January 28, giving Trump two weeks from that day to prepare a defense. The office of the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a question about McConnell’s proposal.
Democrats tightly control the Senate, relying on Vice President Kamala Harris’s tied vote in a 50:50 chamber. They also need Republican cooperation to move much of Biden’s agenda forward and to confirm the cabinet appointment.
Trump is the only U.S. president to be tried twice, and his Senate trial will be the only one that has ever occurred after a president resigns.
A source familiar with the planning told Reuters that parliament could air the impeachment article as early as Friday, and Senate Democrat No. 2 Dick Durbin said he expected it “in a day or two.” In Trump’s first impeachment trial, the Senate initiated the trial the day after the House forwarded the charges.
But Republican Senators said they discussed the need to give Trump time for “due process,” as Senator John Cornyn put it.
“From what I understand from today’s conversation, it won’t start until mid-February,” Republican Senator Mike Braun told reporters.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi declined to answer reporters’ questions about when she would file the charges. Durbin told reporters that it had not yet been decided whether the Senate would go through a “full trial with evidence and witnesses” or an “expedited” trial.
Last week’s House of Representatives vote accused Trump of instigating the deadly attack on the Capitol on January 6, a failed attempt to prevent Congress from officially confirming Biden’s victory.
Democrats, who have a majority in the House of Representatives, narrowly took control of the Senate on Wednesday, but at least two-thirds of the 100-member body must condemn Trump. A separate vote would be required to prevent him from running again for office.
Trump has hired South Carolina-based attorney Butch Bowers to represent him on his impeachment trial against the Senate, a source familiar with the matter cited Thursday.
While Republicans have called for a delay to allow Trump to prepare his defense, some Democrats would also advocate a delay to keep Biden’s agenda and appointments on track.
Senator Chris Coons said Democrats were open to delay if progress was made in confirming the Biden candidates.
“There are dozens of senior officials who need to be vetted and deserve endorsement,” Coons told CNN. “If we continue to make headway in that direction, I think this is a good step. If not, you will quickly find that Democrats are frustrated and insist that we have the accountability that impeachment might bring, drive forward. “