Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi (D-CA) announced that the House will deliver President Donald Trump’s article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday.
“I have spoken to Speaker Pelosi who informed me that the articles will be delivered to the Senate on Monday,” he said Friday morning, a date she confirmed shortly after.
He also rejected Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) filibuster demand out of hand, saying that it “won’t be accepted.”
It is still unclear how closely the trial timeline will ultimately adhere to the loose outline proposed by McConnell on Thursday. By delivering the articles Monday, Pelosi is speeding his timeline up by a few days, a fact he sounded disgruntled about when he made his floor address minutes after Schumer.
“Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former President can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake,” McConnell said. “For that reason, we suggest the House transmit this article next Thursday, but that’s apparently going to be next Monday.”
Pelosi seemed to dismiss his reaction in a Friday morning statement.
“We are respectful of the Senate’s constitutional power over the trial and always attentive to the fairness of the process, noting that the former president will have had the same amount of time to prepare for trial as our Managers. Our Managers are ready to begin to make their case to 100 Senate jurors through the trial process,” she wrote.
Democrats have not yet laid out the rest of the trial timeline, including deadlines for Trump and his legal team to respond and file pre-trial briefs. McConnell’s timeline kicks the start of the trial to mid-February.
“We received Leader McConnell’s proposal that only deals with pre-trial motions late this afternoon,” a Schumer spokesperson told TPM Thursday. “We will review it and discuss it with him.”
Democrats have signaled openness to a delayed trial, indicating that getting Biden’s nominees confirmed rates a higher priority.
When asked on CNN Friday if he’d be willing to let the trial slide for a couple weeks in favor of getting nominees confirmed first, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) called the confirmations “the first priority.”
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) sang a similar tune on CNN Thursday night.
“I think Democrats will be open to considering a delay that allows former President Trump time to assemble his legal team and his defense for the impeachment trial, if we are making progress on confirming the very talented, seasoned and diverse team that President Joe Biden has nominated to serve in his Cabinet,” he said.
Schumer was very decisive about another congressional battle of the first few days of President Joe Biden’s administration, the filibuster threat McConnell is wielding by delaying the power-sharing agreement for the evenly split Senate.
McConnell, Schumer said, “has made an extraneous demand that would place additional constraints on the majority, constraints that have never been in place before,” he said. “In fact, his proposal would remove a tool that the Republican leader himself used twice in just the last Congress to accelerate the confirmation of Republican nominees.”
“Leader McConnell’s proposal is unacceptable and it won’t be accepted,” he added.
It’s still unclear how Schumer will wiggle out of the corner McConnell backed him into though. If he’s unwilling to accept McConnell’s demand, a posture supported by other Democrats over the last couple days, he has few options. He can hope to wear down McConnell by dragging out the standoff — a prospect deeply unattractive to Democrats, since it’ll grind the Senate, Biden’s nominations and any legislation to a halt — or he can use the “nuclear option” on the filibuster now and take McConnell out of the equation.
The more conservative Democrats, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have expressed reluctance to do away with the filibuster before, and McConnell is taking the gamble that his power-grab won’t change their minds.
Manchin, for one, expressed support for Schumer Thursday, conveying that he has no problem with the Democratic desire to keep the nuclear option on the table as leverage down the road.
“Chuck has the right to do what he’s doing,” he told reporters on Thursday. “He has the right to use [the filibuster] to leverage in whatever he wants to do.”
“They’re not going to grind this place to a halt,” he added.