Shortly after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) defended his decision not to convene the Senate until just before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. He explained that even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) clearly intends to remove Trump from office as soon as possible, the impeachment effort will not succeed at that endeavor.
“The House of Representatives has voted to impeach the President. The Senate process will now begin at our first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House,” McConnell announced in a statement.
“Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week,” the senator added. He noted that the Senate’s three previous impeachment trials have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days, respectively.
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office,” McConnell concluded. “This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the ‘quickest’ path for any change in the occupant of the presidency.”
By voting to impeach the president, the House has ensured that Trump’s second impeachment trial will take place after he has left the White House, setting a bizarre precedent. It seems Democrats are not aiming to remove Trump from office now, but rather to prevent him from running for office ever again.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.