The impeachment against Donald Trump became a dilemma: the Senate could carry it out but, for the time being, it would potentially have no legal effect; and if it did, then Joe Biden would be overshadowed on the day of his inauguration as president of the United States.
Although the House of Representatives approved yesterday the impeachment of the outgoing president, it is the Senate that will have to debate the issue after returning from recess on January 19th. However, the 20th would be Biden’s inauguration and Trump’s departure.
“Now, the process continues in the Senate, and I hope they will address their constitutional responsibilities in the impeachment while also working on other pressing issues of this nation,” Biden said in his statement Wednesday after the House of Representatives indicted Trump.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his Republican colleagues that the Senate would not meet early to face impeachment without the consent of all 100 senators. Hence, the impeachment is likely to be a moot question.
“Timing is everything, they say,” a Republican Party aide told Fox News. “With this reality check, will Pelosi and Schumer be so selfish and short-sighted that they won’t let Biden have his day in the sun [on Inauguration Day] and cleanly begin his mission to heal the nation?” he said.
The fact is that Biden hopes that the Senate will be dedicated to ratifying his Cabinet nominations and thus fulfill the government’s agenda.
“Too many Americans have suffered for too long over the past year to delay this urgent work,” the president-elect added.
Trump has just one week left in office, but supporters of the impeachment drive say it is too dangerous to stay in office another minute.
The impeachment resolution condemns Trump for spreading misinformation: that he won the election in a landslide and for irritating a crowd of supporters in Washington DC before the riot on Capitol Hill.
A Fox News analysis points out that unless McConnell changes his mind about convening the House, the Senate will almost certainly only officially receive the message of the indictment against Trump on January 19th, the day before Biden takes office.
“If Pelosi has transmitted the article by that time, the Senate would be forced to begin the president’s trial at 1 p.m. on January 20th or 21st. This would be the day Biden takes office or his first full day in office. If Pelosi holds on to the articles any longer, the Senate trial will be further delayed,” he says.
What is clear, however, is that even though lawyers argue that a Senate impeachment of a former president is not constitutional, there will be a trial.
Schumer, who at the end of this month will become the majority leader, promised to hold a trial in a statement.
“A Senate trial can begin immediately, with the agreement of the current Senate majority leader to reconvene the Senate for an emergency session, or it will begin after January 19th. But make no mistake, there will be an impeachment in the U.S. Senate,” he said.
What will happen with Trump after the impeachment?
A conviction in the Senate could result in Trump being barred from holding any government position.
Michael Luttig, a judge on the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1991 to 2006, argued in a Washington Post opinion piece Tuesday that a Senate trial after Trump has left office would be unconstitutional.
Seeking Trump’s removal from office after Biden’s inauguration seems to be a moot point. But a conviction would allow senators to vote to bar the outgoing president from running for office again in 2024 and reduce his post-presidential benefits.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley argued Wednesday that Trump would have the right to contest an impeachment in court if it began after he left office.
According to Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the impeachment after Trump leaves office is unconstitutional.
“The House passed an indictment against the president, but the Senate, by its rules and precedent, cannot initiate and conclude a trial just before the president leaves office next week,” Cotton said.
Cotton, who vehemently opposes Trump’s impeachment, said Congress should focus on a “safe and orderly transfer of power.”
“After January 20, Congress should continue to address people’s issues: improving our vaccination efforts, getting children back to school, and getting workers back to work.”