Trump impeachment article being sent to Senate Monday, triggering trial to start in earnest next month
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tells ‘Fox News Sunday’ the Trump impeachment will be ‘bad’ for the country and ‘stir up’ additional chaos.
Just before 7 p.m. on Monday, the House of Representatives' impeachment managers will march an article accusing former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection across to the Senate side of the Capitol, officially triggering a trial of the former president that could result in him being barred from holding office in the future.
That outcome appears unlikely with more and more Republican senators coming out to say they are against holding an impeachment trial in the first place -- citing the fact that Trump has already left office. But the trial will be a cloud hanging over the Senate and the first 100 days of the Biden administration for as long as it goes on, and will shut down business in the upper chamber once it gets started in earnest next month.
"Look, everyone wants to put this awful chapter in American history behind us, but sweeping it under the rug will not bring healing," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press conference over the weekend. "The only way to bring healing is to actually have real accountability, which this trial affords. And so we will move forward with the trial."
"I think this is going to be really bad for the country," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said of the upcoming impeachment trial in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) meets virtually with incoming Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge on December 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Rubio has been one of the Republican senators willing to criticize the president for his role in the Jan. 6 riots. Sunday he said, "I think the president bears responsibility for some of what happened, it was most certainly a foreseeable consequence of everything that was going on."
But, Rubio also said: "It's going to ... keep us from focusing on really important things, but it's also just going to stir it up even more and make it even harder to get things done moving forward."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had suggested a schedule for an impeachment trial that would put off the main part of the trial until February, giving the House impeachment managers and Trumps's legal team a chance to submit briefs outlining their arguments before the main part of the trial.
Schumer essentially agreed to the terms wholesale in a move that will also give the upper chamber a chance to work on President Biden's Cabinet appointments and potentially even some legislation before the Senate is stuck hearing impeachment trial arguments six days per week.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao depart after the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Melina Mara - Pool/Getty Images)
It will also give Schumer and McConnell more time to come to an agreement on what's called an organizing resolution, which delineates how many members from each party will be on committees and how legislation will move through the Senate. Talks on that power-sharing deal have been hung up on McConnell's demand that Schumer gives assurances that Democrats won't get rid of the legislative filibuster, something Schumer has strongly resisted.
The House impeachment managers will begin their walk from the House side of the Capitol to the Senate side at 6:55 p.m. Monday. They'll arrive at the Senate at 7 p.m. and at that moment the Senate will officially be conducting an impeachment trial of the former president.
The senators will be sworn-in as jurors for the impeachment trial Tuesday, even though the heart of the affair won't begin until the second week in February.
On Feb. 2, Trump's legal team will have to submit its response to the House impeachment article. That same day the impeachment managers will submit their pre-trial brief.
Another set of briefs are due on Feb. 8 -- Trump's pre-trial brief and the House managers' reply to Trump's answer to the impeachment article.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at The Villages Polo Club, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in The Villages, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Then on Feb. 9, the House managers will submit their rebuttal to Trump's pre-trial brief, and the trial will begin in earnest.
"I was pleased that we worked out a bipartisan schedule," veteran Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said on "America's News Headquarters." "That gives the president, the former president, his team an opportunity to properly prepare their defense. It also allows us to get some of the business at hand with the president by his cabinet. And these urgent issues where we start from, we have no choice."
It takes a two-thirds vote for the Senate to successfully issue a conviction in an impeachment trial. That means 17 Republican senators will need to join all 50 Democrats in voting to convict Trump, which appears unlikely, despite the widespread outrage in the Senate GOP against the president over his post-election behavior.
Trump for two months falsely claimed that he won the election while advancing claims of widespread fraud that were repeatedly batted away by the courts. He then invited thousands of supporters to a rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, the date Congress would certify Biden's win in a joint session. Trump tweeted the event would be "wild."
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) questions the nominee John L. Ratcliff during a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office building on Capitol Hill on Capitol Hill on May 5, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk -Pool/Getty Images)
He then repeated his false claims at the rally as his allies used fiery rhetoric describing their election grievances on the same stage. Shortly after that rally, a pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the Capitol, forcing hundreds of lawmakers and former Vice President Mike Pence to take shelter. Some of the rioters chanted "hang Mike Pence."
McConnell has made clear his displeasure with the former president and left open the possibility of voting to convict Trump, which may or may not bring along some of his allies like Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
And Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. are considered the best bets to vote to convict Trump.
But even if all of those GOP senators break against the former president, those who favor impeaching Trump will need to get several other Republicans to join them -- a tall task given the political sway many expect Trump to still hold in the Republican Party in the future.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) questions witnesses during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Plus, many of the senators who may opt to vote to convict Trump are facing reelection in 2022. Voting to convict Trump would almost certainly prompt a primary challenge to those senators and could even spur Trump to campaign for that primary challenger -- he's already vowed to support challenges to multiple Republicans he views as insufficiently loyal.
The impeachment managers who will march to the Senate Monday, officially triggering the ordeal which may last more than a month, are Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; David Cicilline, D-R.I.; Joaquin Castro, D-Texas; Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.; Ted Lieu, D-Calif.; Joe Neguse, D-Colo.; Madeleine Dean, D-Pa.; and non-voting Delegate Stacy Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.
They'll be the stars of the show for as long as the trial lasts, authoring briefs and making arguments on the Senate floor.
Trump's legal team will be led by South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers.
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Jason Donner and Ben Florance contributed to this report.