The House rushed a vote last week to impeach the former president for "incitement of insurrection" after a violent riot stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and interrupted the certification of President Biden's electoral college win. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she expects to transmit the article to the Senate "soon" to immediately launch a Senate trial.
Though McConnell told his GOP colleagues on a call Thursday that a two-week delay would enable Trump to prepare his legal defense and ensure due process.
"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 said in a statement.
South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers will represent Trump in his impeachment trial and serve as the team "anchor," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. announced Thursday. Graham described Bowers as a "solid guy" and explained he's known Bowers for a long time now, the two know each other since South Carolina Air National Guard where Bowers is a Judge Advocate.
Graham called it a "snap impeachment" since the House brought the impeachment resolution straight to the floor and without any committee hearings. Since Trump is just now preparing his legal team, it's "fair" to provide him the time needed.
"The President was shut out in the House, so his team needs some time to prepare," Graham explained. "I think the managers would also, so I'm very supportive of the proposal made by Senator McConnell. I think it's fair to everybody."
McConnell doesn't have the last say on the timeline. It's up to Pelosi to decide when she wants to send over the article of impeachment. And new Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would likewise need to be supportive of the impeachment timeline. Any attempt to continue needs 51 senators to agree.
A benefit to lingering the trial a bit would provide the Senate time to verify Biden's cabinet nominations. As of Thursday evening, just one nominee, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, has been approved.
Under the McConnell plan, the Senate would swear in the impeachment court on Jan. 28 and issue a summons to Trump. The former president would have one week from that day on Feb. 4, to respond to the article of impeachment. The House's pre-trial brief would further be due then.
Trump would have until Feb. 11 to respond to the House impeachment managers' brief. The House would then rebut the pre-trial brief by Feb. 13, under the GOP proposal.