The House vote to impeach President Trump, historic as it was, has created a series of complicated questions for the looming Senate trial – nearly all of which will have repercussions for the opening days of incoming President Joe Biden.
It’s something Democratic senators and aides say they’re keenly aware of as they’ve worked through possible scenarios – keeping Biden’s team in the loop each step of the way.
Biden himself called current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Jan. 11 in an effort to attempt to map a path forward that allows his administration to start its work – both nominations and potential stimulus legislation – as soon as possible.
The stakes are enormous and will dictate how quickly Biden gets his team in place, as well as whether he and his new Senate majority can launch what are expected to be legislative efforts.
“I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” Biden said in a statement following the impeachment vote Wednesday night, alluding to his desire to ‘bifurcate” the process in the upper chamber.
The ability to solidify doing two things at once weighs heavily on what comes next. As McConnell made clear in a statement Jan. 13, Senate trials have historically not been short.
“The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials,” McConnell said. “They have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.”
While Democrats have been eyeing a tighter timeline, no final decisions have been announced – either on how the trial will play out or when one will actually begin.
But past trials underscore the complicated balancing act that lawmakers are grappling with. Running through this trial provides a guide, but with the caveat that everyone involved is attempting to work through alternatives.