The impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump will begin Feb. 9 under a deal reached Friday by top Senate leaders over the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month — but the GOP could end up regretting its own efforts to delay the trial.
The pushed back proceedings were locked in by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Friday after disagreements over the timing of the trial for Trump, which could permanently bar the recently departed president from holding public office.
“Republicans set out to ensure the Senate’s next steps will respect former president Trump’s rights and due process, the institution of the Senate, and the office of the presidency,” a spokesman for McConnell, Doug Andres said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post. “That goal has been achieved.”
The two-week agreement on Friday also followed calls from President Biden to keep the Senate focused on confirming his cabinet and working on a fresh round of federal coronavirus relief.
But the decision to delay by two weeks may leave the GOP to pay a heavy price even before the trial begins as new revelations emerge that undermine the former president’s position and what appears to be a majority preference among Senate Republicans to drop the issue and move forward as they make hollow calls for “unity.”
In light of a Friday night report from The New York Times that Trump had hatched a plan with a Justice Department lawyer to oust acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen for refusing to carry out his plans to overturn election results in Georgia, it seems quite possible that more damaging news could land in the lead up to the delayed start to the proceedings.
As a plot thickens around Trump’s antidemocratic effort to overturn the will of millions of voters, new evidence could emerge pointing at further efforts of DOJ interference, in addition to more granular details about the deadly riot on the U.S. Capitol that followed Trump’s now infamous rally speech that appeared to encourage his followers to take up arms against democracy.