The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will begin in the Senate the week of February 8, according to an agreement Republicans and Democrats reached Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule after Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had asked for a delay to allow Trump more time to prepare his defense on the sole charge of incitement of insurrection.
Trump is accused of inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
The delayed start of the trial also gives the Senate more time to confirm President Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations as well as consider Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
Schumer said that until the trial, “the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as Cabinet nominations and the COVID relief bill.”
He said of the siege by pro-Trump rioters on the Capitol, “We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us.”
However, he said, “healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide.”
Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee, called the agreement between Schumer and McConnell “fair to all concerned."
“It allows the president’s defense team adequate time to prepare, and for the sake of the country, it moves the process forward,” he said.
Earlier Friday, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would send the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday, setting the process in motion for the Senate trial.
Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice and the first to go on trial after leaving office. If he is convicted, he could be barred from holding federal office again.
A conviction would require at least 17 Republican Senate votes, but to date, only a handful of Republicans have indicated they would consider convicting Trump, and most have questioned the legality of trying a president after his term has ended. Republicans also have complained a trial would be divisive and distract from the new Biden administration.
As preparations for the trial continue, Schumer and McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader until Democrats narrowly won control earlier this month, are vying for advantage in the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats now have an edge because of Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote.
'Fight like hell'
Shortly before the January 6 insurrection that resulted in the deaths of five people, Trump told thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House to “fight like hell” against his election loss, which Congress was in the process of formally certifying.
Thousands of his supporters marched to the Capitol and hundreds of them broke into the building, delaying the certification of the results. A Capitol Police officer was among those who died in the rioting. The House impeached Trump one week later, with the support of 10 Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to impeach.