This is the impeachment bulletin, the Times newsletter on the impeachment inquiry. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox.
What happened today
During a press conference, President Nancy Pelosi declined to tell reporters when House Democrats could carry the only article of impeachment against President Trump in the Senate, questioning when a trial could begin.
In her remarks inside the Capitol, the speaker made it clear that her first priority was to keep the building and lawmakers safe before Mr Biden’s inauguration next week.
Behind the scenes, Democrats were working with Republican leaders to try to come up with a proposal that would allow the Senate to split the time between the impeachment trial and the consideration of Mr. Biden’s agenda, including his cabinet candidates .
Editor’s note: This newsletter will not be published next week, as much of Washington will be devoted to the inauguration of President-elect Biden. We will be back on Monday January 25 – unless events dictate otherwise.
I asked my colleague Nick Fandos, who covers Congress, what we can expect in the next few days.
Nick, what are lawmakers working on now?
There have been so few impeachment trials in American history. At first, senators will have to agree on the parameters of a trial. How long will the lawsuit last? How long will the defense last? Will there be witnesses? Once they do, a trial run is underway. He runs until senators feel they have the information they need to vote, whether to convict or acquit.
Shall we wait a while?
The reason there is a hiatus right now is that the House and Senate are going to try to start this trial at a really precarious time, when a new president is sworn in and wants the Senate to confirm his cabinet.
Before the article even goes out, Republicans in the Senate and House, in consultation with Nancy Pelosi and the Biden team, are trying to see if they can agree on a set of rules that will allow the Senate to set up a dual track, whereby half the day is spent holding hearings and voting to confirm Biden’s cabinet and half the day could be used for a Senate trial.
There is added pressure to make this work due to the continuing threats of unrest in the country. The new administration must be able to put a team in key national security positions in the Department of Justice and the Pentagon. So if Pelosi, for example, keeps the article until a week after Biden’s inauguration, he gives it to the Senate on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after taking an oath to vote on national security confirmations.
What kind of lawsuits are lawmakers planning to hold? Does the timing matter?
The House Directors who are going to prosecute the case are also weighing right now whether they want to try to act very quickly and have an instant trial, as if they had had an instant arraignment, and try to capitalize on the simple facts related to the riot. . There is overwhelming anger in the Senate, and House Directors may try to put Republicans on the record quickly.
But there is a competing school of thought among Democrats that the more information about the riot comes out, the more damning the case against President Trump. They could call witnesses and get more Equipment. A stronger case might mean more likely conviction, they would say, but building it also slows Biden’s agenda.
What can we expect next week then?
House Democrats may well pass the article just before or after the nomination, and then the Senate should quickly go to trial mode. But it’s hard to imagine that we would get into the meat or substance of the trial until the following week.
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