Next Step in Impeachment: a Post-Presidency Trial

McConnell says it won't happen before Biden is sworn in
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2021 6:25 AM CST
Impeachment: What Happens Next
A Marine guard stands at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House, after Trump was impeached, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The guard's presence signifies the president is in the Oval Office.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

President Trump now has a place in the history books as the only president to be impeached twice, but the chances of him being convicted and removed from office before his term is up next week appear to be extremely slim. The next step will be a trial in the Senate, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he will not call for the Senate to reconvene early because "there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week," the AP reports. He has signaled, however, that he might be open to voting to convict Trump on the charge of inciting insurrection. "I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate," he said after the House voted 232-197 to impeach, with 10 Republicans joining unified Democrats. More:

  • Pelosi makes it official. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the article of impeachment Wednesday evening in an "engrossment ceremony" that made impeachment official, Politico reports. "Today, in a bipartisan way, the House demonstrated that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States," she said.

  • Impeachment will take priority in Senate. Under Senate rules, impeachment charges carry the highest privilege and must be taken up immediately when they are received, meaning the issue will likely be Washington's main focus during Biden's first day in office, the New York Times reports.
  • Biden wants the Senate to split its work. Biden is seeking to bend a rule that states the Senate cannot consider other business during impeachment, and wants the chamber to be allowed to spend some of its time confirming his nominees. "I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” Biden tweeted Wednesday
  • Conviction could be a longshot. For Trump to be convicted, at least 17 Republicans will have to side with Democrats, which could be a longshot despite widespread anger at Trump's role in the Capitol riot, NBC reports. Analysts say that while Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict in Trump's first impeachment, is likely to vote to convict, along with several others, it could be tough to get 17 GOP votes even if McConnell is on board.
  • Trump could be banned from holding office. Trump, who will be the first president to face an impeachment after leaving office, could be banned from holding political office by a simple majority vote if he is convicted, the BBC reports. There have also been suggestions that Trump could be stripped of his presidential pension and travel allowance.
  • Trump's defense. Sources tell Reuters that Trump is considering hiring law professor John Eastman—who made unsupported claims of election fraud at Trump's rally before the Capitol riot—for a role on his defense. The insiders also said Trump wants Rudy Giuliani to lead his defense, although other sources tell CNN that the president is so angry about being impeached again that he has told staffers to stop paying the former New York City mayor's legal fees.
(More Trump impeachment stories.)

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