U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. PHOTO: REUTERS/Tom Brenner

The US Senate cannot conduct a “fair or serious” trial of impeached US President Donald Trump in the short time frame before he leaves office next week, the Senate’s Republican leader said Wednesday.

“Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect (Joe) Biden is sworn in next week,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

Trump was impeached Wednesday on one charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his comments at a rally last Wednesday, when he whipped up a pro-Trump mob that laid siege to the US Capitol, clashed with police and threatened the lives of US lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence.

The impeachment now triggers a trial in the Senate.

But “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,” added McConnell.

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He noted that the three previous impeachment trials — of Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1999 and Trump last year — lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.

McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, has said he would not reconvene the chamber, currently in recess, before its scheduled resumption January 19, one day before the inauguration.

But the chamber’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, stressed that McConnell could begin a trial “immediately” if he chose to reconvene for an emergency session. If not, the process could launch after Biden’s inauguration.

“But make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate,” Schumer said in a statement.

“There will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanours, and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again.”

Schumer — who is on track to become the majority leader once two new Democratic senators are sworn in and Biden takes office — said Trump will face trial “for his role in inciting the violent insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6th and attempting to overturn a free and fair election.”

Trump “has deservedly become the first president in American history to bear the stain of impeachment twice over,” Schumer said.

[AFP]

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