Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to propose delay of Trump impeachment trial
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed a delay of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Thursday in a meeting with new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The delay is designed to give the still-emerging Trump legal team time to prepare.
“Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake,” McConnell said in a statement.
He wrote that his proposal includes a “modest and reasonable amount” of additional time for sides to prepare arguments — laying out a proposed timeline that the writ of summons would be filed Jan. 28, followed by a Trump response by Feb. 4 and a pretrial brief due from the former president by Feb. 11.
“From what I understand from today’s conversation, is [the trial] does not get started until sometime mid-February due to the fact that the process, as it occurred in the House, evolved so quickly, and that it is not in line with the time you need to prepare for a defense in a Senate trial,” Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said Thursday afternoon.
“I think, in fairness to anybody who’s accused of impeachable offenses, there needs to be some fair process,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
As his legal team fills out, Trump adviser Jason Miller confirmed that Butch Bowers will be joining Trump’s defense in the upcoming impeachment trial.
“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,” Miller tweeted.
Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the House and Senate are “ready” to proceed with Trump‘s second impeachment trial, but she said transmission of the articles is being held up by questions about how the trial would work.
“I’m not going to be telling you when it is going … they are now ready to receive, but there are other questions of how a trial to proceed. But we are ready,” she said. “It will be soon, as I said you will be the first to know.”
“It will be soon, I don’t think it will be long, but we must do it,” she said.
Pelosi dismissed Republicans’ concerns that impeachment could divide lawmakers so soon after the inauguration.
“It’s not really unifying to say, let’s just forget it, and move on,” Pelosi said.
“Just because he is gone, thank God, we don’t say to a president, ‘Do whatever you want in the last months of your administration … because people want to make nice nice,’ … I think that would be harmful for unity.”
On the question of witnesses, Pelosi deferred to the House managers, but differentiated between the evidence needed for Trump’s first trial, and this upcoming one.
“I do see a big difference between something that we all witnessed, versus what information you might need to substantiate an article of impeachment based in large part on a phone call the president made … but it’s up to them,” referring to the managers.
Schumer reaffirmed Thursday that there will be an impeachment trial and but that he and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are still working to agree on the rules.
“Speaker Pelosi will determine when she will send the articles over. Leader McConnell and I are trying to come up with a bipartisan agreement on how to conduct the trial. But make no mistake about it,” Schumer said. “There will be a trial, there will be a vote, up or down or whether to convict the president.”
At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki denied the trial poses a problem for pursuing President Joe Biden’s agenda: “We are confident, though, that just like the American people can, the Senate can also multitask. And they can do their constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the American people,” she said Wednesday.
Pelosi also didn’t rule out the conduct of lawmakers coming under investigation in any probe of the Capitol Hill riot, accusing some members of giving “aid and comfort” to rioters.
On Biden’s inauguration she said, “What a difference a day makes,” she said. “It was so perfect, in my view.”
ABC News’ Allison Pecorin and Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.
This report was featured in the Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.