Trump impeachment trial could begin on Inauguration Day
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could begin on Inauguration Day, just as Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office in an extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure in the White House.
The trial timeline and schedule are largely set by Senate procedures and will start as soon as the House delivers the article of impeachment. That could mean starting the trial at 1 p.m. on Inauguration Day. The ceremony at the Capitol starts at noon.
Trump was impeached Wednesday by the House over the deadly Capitol siege, the only president in U.S. history twice impeached, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. The attack has left the nation’s capital, and other capital cites, under high security amid threats of more violence around the inauguration.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not said when she will take the next step to transmit the impeachment article, a sole charge of incitement of insurrection. Some senior Democrats have proposed holding back the article to give Biden and Congress time to focus on his new administration’s priorities.
Biden has said the Senate should be able to split its time and do both.
The impeachment trial will be the first for a president no longer in office. And, politically, it will force a reckoning among some Republicans who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is open to considering impeachment, having told associates he is done with Trump, but has not signaled how he would vote.
Convening the trial will be among his last acts as majority leader, as two new senators from Georgia, both Democrats, are to be sworn into office leaving chamber divided 50-50. That tips the majority to the Democrats once Kamala Harris takes office, as the vice president is a tie-breaker.
In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote” in a Senate impeachment trial.