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McConnell: Impeachment a 'Vote of Conscience'

A trial date has not yet been set
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2021 12:51 PM CST

(Newser) – President Trump's impeachment trial is likely to start after Joe Biden's inauguration, and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is telling senators their decision on whether to convict the outgoing president over the Capitol riot will be a “vote of conscience.” The timing for the trial, the first of a president no longer in office, has not yet been set, per the AP. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Friday that Democrats intend to move swiftly on Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID aid and economic recovery package to speed up vaccinations and send Americans relief. Biden is set to take the oath of office Wednesday. The uncertainty of the scheduling, despite the House’s swift impeachment of Trump just a week after the deadly Jan. 6 siege, reflects the fact that Democrats do not want the Senate trial to dominate the opening days of the Biden administration.

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With security forces on alert over the threat of more potential violence heading into the inauguration, the Senate is also moving quickly to prepare for confirming Biden's nominee for national intelligence director, Avril Haines. A committee hearing is set for the day before the inauguration, signaling a confirmation vote could come swiftly once the new president is in office. Many Democrats have pushed for an immediate impeachment trial to hold Trump accountable and prevent him from holding future office, and the proceedings could still begin by Inauguration Day. But others have urged a slower pace as the Senate considers Biden’s Cabinet nominees and the newly Democratic-led Congress considers priorities. Biden's incoming press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Friday the Senate can do both. “The Senate can do its constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the people," she said.

(Read more Trump impeachment stories.)

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