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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent a summary to GOP senators regarding how impeachment proceedings would go should the Democrat-controlled House vote to remove President Donald Trump from office for the second time.
Some House Democrats drafted new articles of impeachment on Friday after hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building. Democrats and some Republicans have accused Trump of inciting insurrection during a speech at a “Stop the Steal” rally Wednesday before the Capitol incident, but the president told supporters to demonstrate “peacefully and patriotically.”
“The Senate is currently in recess and is holding pro forma sessions every three days until January 19. Pursuant to the unanimously approved order setting up the recess and these pro forma sessions, the Senate may conduct no business until January 19,” the majority leader wrote, adding that the chamber will hold two more pro forma sessions next week — Tuesday and Friday.
President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20.
“Without unanimous consent, the Senate may not conduct any business of any kind during pro forma sessions, including beginning to act on received articles of impeachment from the House,” McConnell’s summary noted further.
If House members vote to impeach President Trump before Jan. 19, the Senate will be sent a message denoting the House took its action while the Senate was recessed, Fox News reported.
At that point, in order to conduct “any business of any kind,” all 100 senators would have to agree during both pro forma sessions to assessing the articles of impeachment ahead of the next scheduled regular session on Jan. 19, the summary says.
“Assuming such unanimous consent is not given, the following would take place under the Senate Impeachment Rules when the Senate resumes regular session on January 19,” it adds.
The Kentucky Republican went on to describe potential scenarios for Jan. 19, 20, and 21 in which he said that unless Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presides over an impeachment trial that would begin Jan. 19, and unless House managers present articles to the Senate the same day the upper chamber is informed on impeachment Jan. 19, a trial would likely “begin after President Trump’s term has expired.”
Though the Senate is currently at 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, the GOP retains control until Biden is inaugurated, when Vice President-elect Kamala Harris becomes the tie-breaking vote.
A second impeachment, as well as an impeachment trial after a presidential term has expired, would both be historical firsts in the U.S.
Getting all 100 senators to agree to begin an impeachment trial ahead of Biden’s inauguration seems unlikely.
In an interview Friday with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he believes a second impeachment trial of President Trump would only further split an already deeply divided country.
“I’m calling on President-elect Biden to pick up the phone and call [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and ‘The Squad’ to end the second impeachment,” he said, adding that Trump’s concession speech the day before “hit the mark.”
Graham went on to say he had spent most of Friday with the president, and that Trump is planning to focus on his accomplishments and ensure a peaceful transition of power.
“Joe Biden said it’s up to Congress regarding impeachment. No, President-elect Biden, it’s up to you. Pick up the phone, call Nancy Pelosi, [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.] and The Squad and tell them, ‘Stand down, this will destroy the country even further.’
“You have the power to do that,” Graham said of Biden. “The question is do you have the courage to do it?
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