Impeachment trial arguments to begin week of Feb. 8

House managers to present article Monday, but pretrial brief deadlines would delay official start until Feb. 9

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, right, and Republican leader Mitch McConnell  have reached agreement to start the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump the week of Feb. 8.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, right, and Republican leader Mitch McConnell have reached agreement to start the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump the week of Feb. 8. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 22, 2021 at 7:25pm

The Senate will not begin hearing arguments in President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial until the week of Feb. 8 under a unanimous consent agreement Senate leaders reached Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced the agreement on the floor Friday evening. The chamber’s leaders were under pressure to reach a deal on the trial schedule after Schumer announced earlier in the day the House planned to send its article of impeachment charging Trump with incitement of insurrection to the Senate on Monday. Without an agreement, the trial would’ve started Tuesday.

[Democrats called for witnesses in first Trump impeachment trial, but not this time]

The agreement came just a few hours after President Joe Biden weighed in, agreeing with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s request for delaying the trial.

“I do think that having some time to get our administration up and running ... the more time we have to get up and running and meet these crises, the better,” Biden said.

The schedule Schumer announced has the House impeachment managers scheduled to present the article of impeachment before the Senate on Monday at 7 p.m., and senators to be sworn in on Tuesday in preparation for sitting as the court of impeachment.

“After that both the House managers and the defense will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs, just as they did in previous trials,” Schumer said. “During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as Cabinet nominations and the COVID relief bill.”

Presentation of arguments, which mark the official start of the trial, will begin the week of Feb. 8, Schumer said.

The majority leader did not announce specific due dates for pretrial documents in his floor remarks, but those were released by McConnell’s office.

The deadlines are Feb. 2 for Trump to present his plea and the House managers to file their pretrial brief, Feb. 8 for Trump’s defense team to submit their pretrial brief, and Feb. 9 for the House managers’ rebuttal.

The trial could begin Feb. 9, according to McConnell’s office.

The schedule is slightly faster than the one McConnell proposed to Schumer on Thursday. That would have provided for House managers to present the article on Thursday and file all pretrial briefs by Feb. 13.

Nonetheless, McConnellis glad that Leader Schumer agreed to Republicans’ request for additional time during the pretrial phase,” McConnell spokesman Doug Andres said. “Especially given the fast and minimal process in the House, Republicans set out to ensure the Senate’s next steps will respect former President Trump’s rights and due process, the institution of the Senate, and the office of the presidency. That goal has been achieved.” 

Schumer said he understands the country is eager after the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol to “put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us,” noting the trial evaluating Trump’s role in the attack is a necessary step in that process.

“Healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability, and that is what this trial will provide,” he said.