The second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump may not begin until mid-February, to give him time to prepare a defense against charges of inciting insurrection.
Republican senators sought the delay after Democrats earlier in the day said that the House of Representatives could send the impeachment charge – passed last week in response to the deadly storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters – to the Senate as early as Friday.
Trump, a Republican, left office on Wednesday and flew to his Florida resort, hours before Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked Democrats to hold off on sending the charge until Jan. 28 and give Trump two weeks from that day to prepare a defence. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office did not immediately respond to a question about McConnell’s proposal.
Democrats control the Senate by the narrowest possible margin, relying on Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote in a 50-50 chamber, and also need Republican cooperation to advance much of Biden’s agenda, as well as confirming Cabinet appointments.
Trump is the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice, and his trial in the Senate will be the only one ever to have taken place after a president has left office.
A source familiar with the planning told Reuters the House could transmit the article of impeachment as early as Friday and No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said he expected it “in a day or two.”
In Trump’s first impeachment trial, the Senate began the proceedings the day after the charges were sent from the House.
But Republican senators said they had discussed the need to give Trump time for “due process,” as Senator John Cornyn put it.
“From what I understand from today’s conversation, it does not get started until sometime mid-February,” Republican Senator Mike Braun told reporters.
Trump has hired South Carolina-based lawyer Butch Bowers to represent him in his Senate impeachment trial, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.