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Schumer: Trump Trial to Begin Feb. 8   01/23 12:40

   Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump over the 
Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8, the first time a former president 
will face such charges after leaving office.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for 
Donald Trump over the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8, the first 
time a former president will face such charges after leaving office.

   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule Friday evening 
after reaching an agreement with Republicans, who had pushed for a delay to 
give Trump a chance to organize his legal team and prepare a defense on the 
sole charge of incitement of insurrection.

   The February start date also allows the Senate more time to confirm 
President Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations and consider his proposed $1.9 
trillion COVID relief package --- top priorities of the new White House agenda 
that could become stalled during trial proceedings.

   "We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation's history behind us," 
Schumer said about the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol siege by a mob of pro-Trump 

   "But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. 
And that is what this trial will provide."

   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will send the article of impeachment late Monday, 
with senators sworn in as jurors Tuesday. But opening arguments will move to 

   Trump's impeachment trial would be the first of a U.S. president no longer 
in office, an undertaking that his Senate Republican allies argue is pointless, 
and potentially even unconstitutional. Democrats say they have to hold Trump to 
account, even as they pursue Biden's legislative priorities, because of the 
gravity of what took place --- a violent attack on the U.S. Congress aimed at 
overturning an election.

   If Trump is convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office 
ever again, potentially upending his chances for a political comeback.

   The urgency for Democrats to hold Trump responsible was complicated by the 
need to put Biden's government in place and start quick work on his coronavirus 
aid package.

   "The more time we have to get up and running ... the better," Biden said 
Friday in brief comments to reporters.

   Republicans were eager to delay the trial, putting distance between the 
shocking events of the siege and the votes that will test their loyalty to the 
former president who still commands voters' attention.

   Negotiations between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were 
complicated, as the two are also in talks over a power-sharing agreement for 
the Senate, which is split 50-50 but in Democratic control because Vice 
President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote.

   McConnell had proposed delaying the start and welcomed the agreement.

   "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," said McConnell spokesman Doug Andres. "That goal 
has been achieved."

   Pelosi said Friday the nine House impeachment managers, or prosecutors, are 
"ready to begin to make their case" against Trump. Trump's team will have had 
the same amount of time since the House impeachment vote to prepare, Pelosi 

   Democrats say they can move quickly through the trial, potentially with no 
witnesses, because lawmakers experienced the insurrection first-hand.

   One of the managers, California Rep. Ted Lieu, said Friday that Democrats 
would rather be working on policy right now, but "we can't just ignore" what 
happened on Jan. 6.

   "This was an attack on our Capitol by a violent mob," Lieu said in an 
interview with The Associated Press. "It was an attack on our nation instigated 
by our commander in chief. We have to address that and make sure it never 
happens again."

   Trump, who told his supporters to "fight like hell" just before they invaded 
the Capitol two weeks ago and interrupted the electoral vote count, is still 
assembling his legal team.

   White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday deferred to Congress on 
timing for the trial and would not say whether Biden thinks Trump should be 
convicted. But she said lawmakers can simultaneously discuss and have hearings 
on Biden's coronavirus relief package.

   "We don't think it can be delayed or it can wait, so they're going to have 
to find a path forward," Psaki said of the virus aid. "He's confident they can 
do that."

   Democrats would need the support of at least 17 Republicans to convict 
Trump, a high bar. While most Republican senators condemned Trump's actions 
that day, far fewer appear to be ready to convict.

   A handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open --- but not 
committed --- to conviction. But most have come to Trump's defense as it 
relates to impeachment, saying they believe a trial will be divisive and 
questioning the legality of trying a president after he has left office.

   South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally who has been helping 
him find lawyers, said Friday there is "a very compelling constitutional case" 
on whether Trump can be impeached after his term --- an assertion Democrats 
reject, saying there is ample legal precedent. Graham also suggested 
Republicans will argue Trump's words on Jan. 6 were not legally "incitement."

   "On the facts, they'll be able to mount a defense, so the main thing is to 
give him a chance to prepare and run the trial orderly, and hopefully the 
Senate will reject the idea of pursuing presidents after they leave office," 
Graham said.

   Other Republicans had stronger words, suggesting there should be no trial at 
all. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said Pelosi is sending a message to Biden that 
"my hatred and vitriol of Donald Trump is so strong that I will stop even you 
and your Cabinet from getting anything done." Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson 
suggested Democrats are choosing "vindictiveness" over national security as 
Biden attempts to set up his government.

   McConnell, who said this week that Trump "provoked" his supporters before 
the riot, has not said how he will vote. He said Senate Republicans "strongly 
believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a 
defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and 
constitutional questions."

   Trump, the first president to be impeached twice, is at a disadvantage 
compared with his first impeachment trial, in which he had the full resources 
of the White House counsel's office to defend him. Graham helped Trump hire 
South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers after members of his past legal teams 
indicated they did not plan to join the new effort.

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