Does Congress Have Time to Impeach & Remove Trump Before Inauguration Day?
Should Congress try to impeach and convict President Trump?
What’s the story?
- With the House signaling it may impeach President Donald Trump next week in a bid to remove him from office before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20th, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlined the timeline for a possible impeachment trial after consulting with the Senate parliamentarian
- It’s unclear at this time when or if the House will vote on articles of impeachment, but the Senate’s current parliamentary posture has an impact on quickly an impeachment trial could begin in the upper chamber. Without unanimous consent from all senators, the Senate will not be able to begin considering the articles of impeachment until after President Trump’s term ends.
What’s the timeline?
- When the Senate recessed after the certification of the Electoral College results, the Senate agreed by unanimous consent to schedule pro forma sessions every three days until January 19th, when it would next hold a regular session. There are pro forma sessions scheduled for Tuesday, January 12th, and Friday, January 15th.
- Under the Senate’s rules and precedents, it can’t conduct business of any kind during pro forma sessions without unanimous consent from all 100 senators. That includes beginning the consideration of the articles of impeachment.
- If the House approves articles of impeachment while the Senate is in recess next week, the Senate could receive the message about the impeachment vote, but it wouldn’t be formally announced to the Senate until January 19th during the next regular session.
- Assuming there isn’t unanimous consent is granted to conduct business during a pro forma session, the Senate would be formally notified of the message from the House that articles of impeachment were adopted on January 19th.
- The Senate would then inform the House it’s ready to receive impeachment managers, and invite Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to preside over the trial. (It’s unclear whether the chief justice, who is constitutionally required to preside over a presidential impeachment trial, would do so after Trump’s term expires.)
- Senate rules require House impeachment managers to exhibit the articles before the Senate the day after the Senate informs the House it’s prepared to receive the managers. However, the Senate can also order the managers to do it the same day, so this procedure could occur on January 19th or January 20th.
- The chamber’s impeachment rules compel the Senate to proceed to the consideration of the articles in a trial at 1pm the day after the managers exhibit them before the Senate. As a result, the Senate trial would begin after President Trump’s term expired ― either one hour after its expiration on January 20th, or 25 hours after its expiration on January 21st.
- Under the Senate’s impeachment rules, the Senate would stay in daily session (excluding Sundays) for the purpose of conducting the impeachment trial until a final judgment is made.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: White House via Flickr / Public Domain)
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