Democrats hoping to remove President Donald Trump from office before the end of his term have had those hopes dashed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell’s office reportedly would not agree to reconvene the Senate before Jan. 19 so an impeachment trial could be held while Trump is still in office. A McConnell spokesman confirmed that the Kentucky lawmaker’s office reached out to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s staff to say Republicans would not agree to a session allowing House Democrats to present their article of impeachment to the Senate before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The report comes a day after The New York Times claimed that McConnell was pleased with Democrats’ plans to impeach the president over last week’s violence at the U.S Capitol.
McConnell had noted in a memo last week that, for an impeachment trial to begin before Trump leaves office, there would need to be unanimous consent from senators to reconvene before they are actually scheduled to return to Washington on Jan. 19.
“It would require the consent of all 100 senators to conduct any business of any kind during the scheduled pro forma sessions prior to January 19,” McConnell’s memo said, according to The Hill.
“The Senate trial would therefor begin after President Trump’s term has expired — either one hour after its expiration on Jan. 20 or twenty-five hours after its expiration on Jan. 21,” the memo added.
But Schumer countered the claim, pushing for an impeachment trial before Inauguration Day.
Per a senior Dem aide: “Schumer is exploring using the authority granted to the two Senate leaders in 2004 to reconvene the Senate in times of emergency, to allow for a potential trial to begin immediately after articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate.”
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) January 11, 2021
“Leader McConnell is saying you can’t call the Senate back after the House votes for impeachment because it requires unanimous consent — the consent of every senator. That’s not true,” Schumer said at a press conference in New York on Tuesday.
“There was legislation passed in 2004 that allows the Senate minority leader and majority leader to jointly reconvene the Senate in times of emergency. This is a time of emergency,” the New York Democrat said. “I’ve asked him to call the Senate back — all he needs is my agreement. I’m still minority leader.”
(Source: Associated Press)
But a Senate Republican aide confirmed Wednesday that McConnell’s office would not agree.
Can confirm —> https://t.co/l2U1WlyQSF
— Doug Andres (@DougAndres) January 13, 2021
Democrats in the House of Representatives have charged Trump with one article of “incitement of insurrection,” effectively blaming him for the actions of rioters who set upon the U.S. Capitol last week.
Legal experts have pointed out that the Senate will have no legal authority to carry out an impeachment of Trump next week once he has left office. Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz asserted on Fox News that it will never go to trial in the Senate.
“It will not go to trial. All the Democrats can do is impeach the president in the House of Representatives. For that, all you need is a majority vote. You don’t have to take evidence, there are no lawyers involved,” Dershowitz, who was part of the president’s legal team during the first impeachment, told host Maria Bartiromo.
Former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig noted in an opinion piece published by The Washington Post Tuesday that the Senate has no “constitutional authority” to impeach a president after he leaves office.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) January 13, 2021
“Once Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20, Congress loses its constitutional authority to continue impeachment proceedings against him — even if the House has already approved articles of impeachment,” Luttig wrote.