Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y. — together with Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. — announced late Monday they had reached an agreement on the impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump.
McConnell and Schumer’s deal outlined the framework of the trial, which starts this week.
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McConnell announced to the Senate that he and Schumer had reached a deal that “preserves due process and the rights of both sides.”
“I’m pleased that Leader Schumer and I were able to reach an agreement on a fair process and estimated timeline for the upcoming Senate trial,” McConnell told his colleagues. “It will give senators as jurors ample time to receive the case and the arguments.”
“For the information of the Senate, the Republican leader and I, in consultation with both the House managers and Former President Trump’s lawyers, have agreed to a bipartisan resolution to govern the structure and timing of the impending trial,” Schumer had announced earlier.
“All parties have agreed to a structure that will ensure a fair and honest Senate impeachment trial of the former president,” he said.
The nine Democratic impeachment managers for the House, which impeached Trump last month, will argue that he alone was responsible for inciting the mob of supporters who broke into the U.S. Capitol and interrupted the presidential electoral count.
Lawyers for Trump argue that the trial is unconstitutional and say the former president was exercising freedom of speech when he told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. The arguments against conviction are expected to be persuasive with Senate Republicans, most of whom have signaled that they will vote to acquit.
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The trial is expected to last into the weekend and possibly longer.
Tuesday’s proceedings will begin with a debate to dismiss the trial before it even begins. Trump’s lawyers have argued the trial is moot now that Trump is out of office, and 45 Senate Republicans have already voted once to move forward with an effort to dismiss the trial on those grounds.
The Senate will debate the constitutionality of the trial for four hours on Tuesday and then hold a vote on whether to dismiss it. The effort to dismiss is expected to fail, allowing arguments in the trial to begin on Wednesday.
Democrats say the trial is valid under the Constitution. They point to an 1876 impeachment trial of a secretary of war who had resigned and note that Trump was impeached before he left office. Trump’s lawyers dismiss that precedent and say language in the Constitution is on their side.
If the motion to dismiss fails, the House managers will present their arguments first, beginning Wednesday. Each side will have up to 16 hours, running no more than eight hours per day.
The Democrats are expected to try and take advantage of the senators’ emotions as they describe in detail — and show on video — what happened as the mob broke through police barriers, injured law enforcement officers, ransacked the Capitol, and hunted for lawmakers. The riot led to five deaths, including one police officer killed by the mob.
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The impeachment managers have argued that the mob subverted democracy and that Trump was “singularly” responsible for their actions after months of saying there was widespread fraud in the election. They will appeal to Senate Republicans to vote to convict after most of them criticized Trump in the wake of the riots, with many saying he was responsible for the violence.
It appears unlikely, for now, that there will be witnesses at the trial. But the managers can ask for a Senate vote on calling witnesses if they so choose.
Defense arguments are likely to begin Friday. In their main filing with the Senate, Trump’s lawyers made clear that they will not only argue against the trial on process grounds, but also present a full-throated defense of Trump’s actions that day and why they believe he did not incite the riot.
While the Democrats are expected to appeal to the senators’ emotions, Trump’s lawyers have signaled they will go after the Democrats personally in the brief, describing their case as a “selfish attempt by Democratic leadership in the House to prey upon the feelings of horror and confusion” and another example of “Trump derangement syndrome” after four years of trying to drive him out of office.
The lawyers argue that Trump’s words “fight like hell” did not mean to literally fight, that the rioters acted on their own accord.
Five Republican senators voted with Democrats two weeks ago not to dismiss the trial on constitutional grounds. Those senators so far appear the most likely to vote to convict Trump.
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The five senators, all of whom have harshly criticized the president’s behavior, are Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Democrats appear to have little chance of persuading 17 Republicans to find Trump guilty, the minimum number that they would need for conviction. But some GOP senators who voted in favor of the effort to dismiss, such as Rob Portman of Ohio and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, have said they are coming into the trial with an open mind.
Democrats are likely to focus, too, on senators who are retiring in 2022 and will have less to lose politically if they vote to convict. In addition to Toomey and Portman, also retiring are Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr.
The Associated Press contributed to this article