McConnell: Push Trump Trial to Feb. 01/22 06:26

McConnell: Push Trump Trial to Feb.    01/22 06:26

   Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to push back the start 
of Donald Trump's impeachment trial to February to give the former president 
time to prepare and review his case.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to 
push back the start of Donald Trump's impeachment trial to February to give the 
former president time to prepare and review his case.

   House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the deadly 
Jan. 6 Capitol riot have signaled they want to move quickly to trial as 
President Joe Biden begins his term, saying a full reckoning is necessary 
before the country --- and the Congress --- can move on.

   But McConnell in a statement Thursday evening suggested a more expansive 
timeline that would see the House transmit the article of impeachment next 
week, on Jan. 28, launching the trial's first phase. After that, the Senate 
would give the president's defense team and House prosecutors two weeks to file 
briefs. Arguments in the trial would likely begin in mid-February.

   "Senate Republicans are strongly 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," especially 
given the unprecedented speed of the House process, McConnell said.

   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is reviewing the plan and will 
discuss it with McConnell, a spokesperson said. The two leaders are also 
negotiating how the new 50-50 Senate will work and how they will balance other 
priorities.

   A trial delay could appeal to some Democrats, as it would give the Senate 
more time to confirm Biden's Cabinet nominees and debate a new round of 
coronavirus relief. Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a key ally of the 
president's, told CNN that Democrats would consider a delay "if we are making 
progress on confirming the very talented, seasoned and diverse team that 
President Joe Biden has nominated."

   The ultimate power over timing rests with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who 
can trigger the start of the trial at any point by sending to the Senate the 
charge of incitement of an insurrection. The California Democrat has not yet 
said when she will do that.

   "It will be soon. I don't think it will be long, but we must do it," Pelosi 
said Thursday. She said Trump doesn't deserve a "get-out-of-jail card" just 
because he has left office and Biden and others are calling for national unity.

   Facing his second impeachment trial in two years, Trump began to assemble 
his defense team by hiring attorney Butch Bowers to represent him, according to 
an adviser. Bowers previously served as counsel to former South Carolina Govs. 
Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford.

   Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina helped Trump find Bowers 
after members of his past legal teams indicated they did not plan to join the 
new effort. Trump is at a disadvantage compared to his first trial, in which he 
had the full resources of the White House counsel's office to defend him.

   Pelosi's nine impeachment managers, who will be prosecuting the House case, 
have been regularly meeting to discuss strategy. Pelosi said she would talk to 
them "in the next few days" about when the Senate might be ready for a trial.

   Shortly before the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump told thousands of his 
supporters at a rally near the White House to "fight like hell" against the 
election results that Congress was certifying. A mob marched down to the 
Capitol and rushed in, interrupting the count. Five people, including a Capitol 
Police officer, died in the mayhem, and the House impeached Trump a week later, 
with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in support.

   Pelosi said it would be "harmful to unity" to forget that "people died here 
on Jan. 6, the attempt to undermine our election, to undermine our democracy, 
to dishonor our Constitution."

   Trump was acquitted by the Republican-led Senate at his first impeachment 
trial. The White House legal team, aided by Trump's personal lawyers, 
aggressively fought the House charges that he had encouraged the president of 
Ukraine to investigate Biden in exchange for military aid. This time around, 
Pelosi noted, the House is not seeking to convict the president over private 
conversations but for a very public insurrection that they themselves 
experienced and that played out on live television.

   "This year, the whole world bore witness to the president's incitement," 
Pelosi said.

   Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said it was still too 
early to know how long a trial would take or if Democrats would want to call 
witnesses. But he said, "You don't need to tell us what was going on with the 
mob scene we were rushing down the staircase to escape."

   McConnell, who said this week that Trump "provoked" his supporters before 
the riot, has not said how he will vote. He told his GOP colleagues that it 
will be a vote of conscience.

   Democrats would need the support of at least 17 Republicans to convict 
Trump, a high bar. While a handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they 
are open to conviction, most have said they believe a trial will be divisive 
and questioned the legality of trying a president after he has left office.

   Graham said that if he were Trump's lawyer, he would focus on that argument 
and on the merits of the case --- and whether it was "incitement" under the law.

   "I guess the public record is your television screen," Graham said. "So, I 
don't see why this would take a long time."

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