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Senate Leaders Agree on Impeachment Trial Delay, Giving Biden Breathing Room

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders struck a deal on Friday to delay former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial for two weeks, giving President Biden time to install his cabinet and begin moving a legislative agenda before they begin a historic proceeding to try his predecessor.

The plan guarantees that the trial, which promises to dredge up the ugly events of Mr. Trump’s final days in office and resurface deep divisions over his conduct, will loom large over Mr. Biden’s first days at the White House. But it will also allow the president to put crucial members of his team in place and push forward on a coronavirus aid package he has said is his top priority.

Democrats had begun to fret those steps would be subsumed by the rush to try Mr. Trump.

“We all want to put this awful chapter in our nation’s history behind us,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader. “But healing and unity will only come if there is truth and accountability. And that is what this trial will provide.”

Mr. Trump, the first president to be impeached twice and the only one ever to face trial after leaving office, is accused of “incitement of insurrection.” The House approved the charge with bipartisan support last week after Mr. Trump stirred up a mob of his supporters who stormed the Capitol in a violent rampage on Jan. 6.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Friday that the House impeachment managers would walk the charge across the Capitol to the Senate at 7 p.m. Monday, and Mr. Schumer said senators would be sworn in as jurors the next day. But under Mr. Schumer’s agreement with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, the chamber will then pause until the week of Feb. 8 to give the prosecution and defense time to draft and exchange written legal briefs.

“During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as cabinet nominations and the Covid relief bill, which would provide relief for millions of Americans who are suffering during this pandemic,” Mr. Schumer said.

The deal did not specify how a trial would proceed once oral arguments begin on Feb. 9, but both sides indicated they were looking to compress it into a handful of days, potentially allowing senators to reach a verdict by the end of that week.

The delay represented a compromise between the two party leaders in the Senate, who have struggled in the days since Mr. Biden’s inauguration to agree on how the evenly divided chamber should function. Still, the broader disagreement persisted on Friday, hamstrung by a dispute over the filibuster, which allows a minority to block legislation.

For Mr. McConnell, who has signaled that he is open to convicting Mr. Trump and has privately indicated that he believes the former president committed impeachable offenses, the agreement to delay the trial held political advantages. It allowed him to argue that the proceeding was fair, giving the former president ample time to make his case, and bought more time for Mr. McConnell and other Republicans to weigh how they would vote.

“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 at stake,” Mr. McConnell said.

Democrats were weighing competing interests, including Mr. Biden’s agenda, as well as a desire to dispatch with the trial of his predecessor quickly and to force Republican senators to go on the record with regard to Mr. Trump’s actions while the memories of the riot were still fresh.

They agreed to the delay after Mr. Biden said on Friday that he was in favor of doing so, as a way of keeping the Senate focused on confirming members of his administration and beginning work on the next round of federal coronavirus aid. The president has tried to steer clear of the substance of the trial.

“The more time we have to get up and running to…

Read More: Senate Leaders Agree on Impeachment Trial Delay, Giving Biden Breathing Room -news.google.com

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