Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed pushing former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial until mid-February, dropping the decision in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) lap on Thursday evening.
The timeline for impeachment has been murky since the House impeached Trump on January 13, not least because a trial will have to be balanced with getting President Joe Biden’s nominees confirmed.
In a statement after discussing the matter with the Republican conference, McConnell suggested that Trump have until February 4 to answer the articles of impeachment and until the 11th to submit a pre-trial brief. The House would have two days to file its rebuttal pre-brief by the 13th.
The minority leader told reporters that he’d not yet heard back from Schumer, whose office did not immediately respond to TPM’s questions.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who has been helping Trump amass legal representation, immediately blasted out a press release supporting McConnell’s proposal. He also called the impeachment trial itself “unconstitutional” at this point, a comment that has been cropping up more and more among Republican lawmakers.
“As I have continuously stated, I believe this is an unconstitutional exercise of impeachment power, and this process will allow that argument to be made in a timely fashion,” Graham wrote.
Another question mark hanging over the process has been the matter of Trump hiring lawyers. Trump’s campaign spokesman Jason Miller confirmed on Twitter that at least one lawyer, Butch Bowers, had joined Trump’s legal team.
Excited to announce that Columbia, SC-based Butch Bowers has joined President Trump’s legal team. Butch is well respected by both Republicans and Democrats and will do an excellent job defending President Trump.
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) January 21, 2021
There are still unknown variables about the length of the trial and whether it will include witnesses. Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at her press conference Thursday, have implied that there is less of a need for witnesses this time around since many of the lawmakers were themselves witnesses, and experienced the insurrection that is the basis of the article.
While many questions about the timeline and contours of the process remain, Schumer made clear Thursday that there will at least, at some point, be a trial.
“Make no mistake about it,” he told reporters. “There will be a trial, there will be a vote up or down on whether to convict the president.”