WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s indictment can begin on inauguration day, just as Democrat Joe Biden is taking office in an increasingly extraordinary end to the defeated White House mandate.
The timing is not set and depends heavily on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decides to transfer the indictment to the Senate. Democrats hoping to avoid interrupting Biden’s inauguration have proposed holding back until the new president has a chance to get his government up and running.
What is clear is that the trial in the future will be unlike any other in the nation̵
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is open to considering persecution after telling staff he is done with Trump, but he has not signaled how he would vote.
The Republican leader has great power in his party, though summoning the trial will be among his last acts as majority leader. Two new senators from Georgia, both Democrats, are to be sworn in for office and leave the House divided 50-50. It tips the majority for the Democrats when Kamala Harris takes office, as the vice president is a draw.
In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he “had not made a final decision on how I will vote” in a lawsuit against the Senate.
Trump was indicted Wednesday by Parliament over the deadly siege of the Capitol, the only president in American history, twice charged after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. The attack has left the nation’s capital and other capital quotes under high security amid threats of more violence around the inauguration.
Pelosi has not said when she will take the next step in transmitting the persecution article, a single charge of inciting rebellion.
Following the Senate’s proceedings, the trial is set to begin shortly after Parliament delivers the article on prosecution. This may mean that the trial starts at 13 on the day of inauguration. The ceremony at the Capitol starts at noon.
After Trump’s first indictment, in 2019, she withheld the articles for some time to set the stage for Senate action.
Biden has said the Senate should be able to split its time and do both – hold the trial and start working on its priorities.
With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, Parliament voted 232-197 on Wednesday to accuse Trump. Negotiations moved lightning fast with lawmakers voting only a week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, marked by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election result.
Ten Republicans fled Trumpand joined Democrats, who said he should be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress were to leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. It was the most bipartisan presidential mission of modern times, more than against Bill Clinton in 1998.
The Capitol uprising stunned and angered lawmakers sent to crib for safety as the crowd came down, revealing the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power.
Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible and asked lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign “and domestic.”
She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”
Holet up in the White House and watching the TV case, Trump later released a video statement in which he did not mention the persecution at all, but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden’s inauguration.
“Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the accident at the Capitol last week,” he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity “to move forward” and said: “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. … No true supporter of me could ever respect law enforcement.”
Trump was first indicted by the House in 2019 because of his relationship with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquittal.
No president has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans have said that may change in the rapidly changing political environment as officeholders, donors, large corporations and others peel away from the defeated president.
Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope that the Senate leadership “will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities by indictment while also working on the other urgent business in this nation.”
Unlike his first time, Trump faces this accusation as a weakened leader after losing his own re-election as well as the Republican Senate majority.
In a case of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the Constitution, the four-page indictment is trusts Trump’s own burning rhetoric and the lies he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
The indictment resolution is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.
A Capitol police officer died from injuries sustained during the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The uprising delayed the counting of the ballot papers, which was the last step in ending the City’s victory.
Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranked House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to accuse Trump and split the Republican leadership and the party itself.
Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump’s actions calling the mob that “there has never been a major betrayal by a president” to his office.
The president’s solid popularity with GOP lawmakers still had some fluctuation, and most House Republicans voted not to accuse.
Trump is said to be lively with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.
Security was unusually tight at the Capitol with high fences around the complex. Metal detector investigations were required for lawmakers entering the House of Representatives, where lawmakers a week earlier hugged themselves when police, guns drawn, barricaded the door from rebels.
The indictment draws on Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat against Biden. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly rejected cases challenging election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no evidence of widespread fraud.
While some question the accusation of the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, under the Ulysses Grant administration, War Minister William Belknap was indicted by the House on the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.
Associated Press authors Kevin Freking, Andrew Taylor Alan Fram, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.