President Joe Biden said on Monday that the forthcoming impeachment trial for his predecessor Donald Trump “has to happen,” in remarks that appeared to push back on efforts from some Republicans to shrug accountability and sweep Trump’s wrongdoing under the rug.
“I think it has to happen,” Biden said during a brief CNN interview on Monday night.
While acknowledging the trial’s potential effects on his legislative agenda and Cabinet nominees, Biden said there would be “a worse effect if it didn’t happen.”
Biden reportedly told CNN that he doesn’t think 17 Republican senators will vote to convict Trump.
“The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn’t changed that much,” Biden said, adding that he believed the outcome might have been different if Trump had more time left in his term.
The comments came as the House impeachment managers formally triggered the start of Trump’s second impeachment trial by reading the charge against Trump on the Senate floor on Monday.
Biden’s comments appeared to expand on a statement he issued earlier this month that called the House impeachment vote “a bipartisan vote cast by members who followed the Constitution and their conscience.”
“This nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus and a reeling economy,” Biden said at the time. “I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”
Trump’s Senate trial is set to get underway during the week of Feb. 8, and earlier on Monday, a Senate source told TPM that Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, was expected to preside.