More than a week after the House voted to impeach former President Trump, Democrats in the chamber will deliver the one article of “incitement of insurrection” to the Senate Monday evening.
The impeachment article faces an uncertain future in the Senate where Republicans, who would with Democrats preside over the trial as jurors, have argued the entire proceeding is unnecessary because Trump is already out of office and would only result in dividing an already split country even further.
GOP Sen. Marco Rubio called the impeachment trial “stupid” and said he would vote to end it the first chance he gets.
“I think the trial is stupid,” the Florida Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We already have a flaming fire in this country,” he said, adding that trying Trump would douse it with a “bunch of gasoline.”
“The first chance I get to vote to end this trial I’ll do it,” he said.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he and some of his Republican colleagues think conducting a trial after Trump has already vacated the office is unconstitutional.
“I think a lot of Americans are going to think it’s strange that the Senate is spending its time trying to convict and remove from office a man who left office a week ago,” Cotton said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, pressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to delay the beginning of the trial for two weeks to allow Trump to assemble a legal team and compile a defense against the charge, and the New York Democrat agreed.
“Given the unprecedented speed of the House’s process, our proposed timeline for the initial phases includes a modest and reasonable amount of additional time for both sides to assemble their arguments before the Senate would begin to hear them,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
McConnell told members of his caucus to vote their conscience.
The trial now is expected to begin the week of Feb. 8.
President Biden also backed a delay so that the Senate could work on confirming his appointees and begin to negotiate some of his legislative priorities like a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president doesn’t have a position on whether Trump should be impeached and said the former president’s fate rests with the Senate.
“He’s no longer in the Senate, and he believes that it’s up to the Senate and Congress to determine how they will hold the former President accountable, and what the mechanics and timeline of that process will be,” she said in a White House briefing last week.
The House impeached Trump for a second time on Jan. 13, voting 232-197 to approve the one article of impeachment.
But unlike the last time in December 2019, 10 Republicans joined with all Democrats to vote against Trump.
The Senate, which requires a two-thirds majority to convict, is split 50-50 between the two parties, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote.
The chamber would need 17 Republicans to cross the aisle to convict – which is highly unlikely.
McConnell has condemned Trump’s role in the Capitol riot of Jan. 6 when a mob of Trump supporters descended on the building, but he hasn’t said whether he will vote to convict Trump.
They crashed through doors and windows and eventually made their way to the floor of the Senate and into some of the congressional offices before being turned back by law enforcement officers.
While a large number of Republicans stand steadfast against convicting Trump, some have not ruled it out.
Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump in the Senate last February on one of the two articles, said the former commander-in-chief must be held accountable for his actions after the Nov. 3 presidential election and the Jan. 6 riot.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Romney brought up the phone call Trump had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger about overturning the presidential election results.
“Well, we’re certainly going to have a trial. I wish that weren’t necessary, but the president’s conduct with regards to the call to Secretary of State Raffensperger in Georgia, as well as the incitation towards the insurrection that led to the attack on the Capitol, call for a trial,” Romney said.
“And, you know, if we’re going to have unity in our country, I think it’s important to recognize the need for accountability, for truth and justice,” he said.