Efforts to convict President Donald Trump for inciting a riot at the United States Capitol appear to have stalled Monday, amid word that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has yet to put together a plan to send an article of impeachment to the Senate for the president’s trial and that senior Senate Dems are not whipping votes on the issue.
Democrats are looking to finish what they began last week when they impeached Trump for allegedly inciting his supporters to riot and launch an attack on the U.S. Capitol with his specious claims of widespread vote fraud in the November presidential election. The Senate must now try Trump on the indictment and vote on whether to convict the current president but with less than two days left in Trump’s term, Democrats seem to see no reason to hurry.
“The Senate could take the next steps–trying Mr. Trump and voting on his guilt–as soon as this week,” the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend. “Conviction requires a two-thirds vote by senators present; assuming perfect attendance, 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to find Mr. Trump guilty.”
But, Fox News notes, precisely when the trial will start “is up in the air.” “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after overseeing the impeachment of Trump just one week after he riled up a group of supporters who later ransacked the Capitol while Congress was certifying the election results, has yet to send the article of impeachment to the Senate,” the outlet reported Monday.
“The Senate, once it gets the article, will be legally required to start a trial forthwith,” Fox News continued. “This would take up much of the body’s calendar even as President-elect Joe Biden will need it to confirm some of his most important nominees. This could be a reason why Pelosi has not sent over the article — to give Schumer time to confirm some Biden nominees or pass some legislation before a trial starts.”
Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Sunday, aren’t putting much effort into whipping votes for the trial, either.
Durbin told CNN’s State of the Union that Democrats are not making a formal push for conviction. “We will, of course, try to find out how members feel,” had said. “But in terms of arm-twisting, when it comes to impeachment, you just don’t do that.”
“When it comes to an issue of this gravity and constitutional importance, members really have to follow their own conscience. It isn’t a matter of saying, ‘Well, the team has to all vote together.’ It just doesn’t happen,” he continued.
Democrats hope a conviction will jettison Trump from public life and prevent him from seeking to recapture the White House in 2024. But it’s not clear, from the Constitution, whether convicting an out-of-office president — even one that’s been recently impeached — is even possible, and that may be what’s hampering Democratic efforts.
There are also concerns, voiced by no less than President-elect Joe Biden, that the Senate could be so pre-occupied with impeaching the previous president that they will lose precious time in assisting the new president with passing his agenda — something Biden has just 18 months to do before the next national election.
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