President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the US Senate will not begin until next week, outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday, setting the stage for a partisan brawl in President-elect Joe Biden’s first days in office.
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact,” McConnell said in a statement.
McConnell, who loses his position as majority leader when Biden is sworn in on January 20, issued his statement shortly after the House of Representatives voted 232-197 to make Trump the first US president ever to be impeached twice, a week after a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol.
Now that Trump has been impeached in the House for a second time, the action moves to the Senate, which would hold a formal trial with US Chief Justice John Roberts presiding.
McConnell said a “fair or serious trial” cannot conclude before Biden is sworn in.
“The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 83 days, 37 days and 21 days, respectively,” he noted in a statement.
It was not clear whether the Democratic-led House would deliver the charge against Trump to the Senate on Wednesday night.
Ten of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined 222 Democrats in backing impeachment in the House, where Democrats hold a slim majority.
In the Senate, Republicans still have control until two newly elected Democrats from Georgia take their seats and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will wield the tie-breaking vote in the 50-50 chamber, is sworn in alongside Biden.
No Democrats voted against impeachment.