Republicans seek delay on Trump impeachment trial until February
Republican lawmakers in the US Senate are seeking to delay the start of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial until next month.
According to the Republican, this will give Mr Trump enough time to prepare a robust defence.
Trump, it could be recalled, is being accused of inciting insurrection after his supporters stormed the Capitol earlier this month.
He flew to Florida as his term ended on Wednesday, skipping his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration.
BBC reports that Democrat lawmakers of the House of Representatives are ready to hand the charge to the Senate but it seems the Senate is playing the delay game.
On January 6, Trump had told protesters near the White House to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard, urging them to “fight like hell”.
The demonstration turned ugly as a mob forced its way into the congressional complex where lawmakers were certifying Mr Biden’s election victory.
Four protesters and a Capitol Police officer died in the mayhem.
A week later, Mr Trump became the first US president to be impeached twice.
His trial in the Senate will be the only one ever to have taken place after a president has left office.
On a call to his fellow Republican senators on Thursday, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he had asked House Democrats to hold off sending the single impeachment article to the Senate until 28 January – a move which would kick-start the trial’s first phase.
Under this timetable, Mr Trump would then have two weeks – until 11 February – to submit his pre-trial defence. Arguments would be expected to begin in mid-February.
Republicans, who as of Wednesday no longer control the Senate, need the new Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, to agree to the idea.
Mr McConnell said in a statement: “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.”
Senator John Cornyn of Texas told Reuters news agency that he and fellow Republicans had been discussing the need to allow Mr Trump “due process”.
Ten Republicans sided with House Democrats in impeaching the outgoing president on 14 January.
Even though Democrats now narrowly control the Senate, they would need the support of at least 17 Republicans in order to convict Mr Trump, because a two-thirds vote is required.
A handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open to conviction, but most have either cast doubt on the legality of trying a president after he has left office, or said the process would be too divisive.
The question begging for answer is: “Will Democrats go along with this schedule?”
Mr Schumer’s office has not yet released a statement on Mr McConnell’s proposal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to answer journalists’ questions on Thursday about when she would submit the charge.
But she said Mr Trump did not deserve a “get out of jail card” just because he had left office.