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A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office tweeted Wednesday that the Republican leader would not consent to reconvene the Senate before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The announcement increases the likelihood that President Trump’s expected impeachment trial will be delayed until after he leaves office.
“It is likely that we'll be unable to take up this issue until after President-elect Biden is sworn into office on Jan. 20, but it is within the power and authority of Mitch McConnell to make that happen sooner,” says Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Democratic Senate Whip.
Durbin says Trump “should be removed from office” for the violent insurrection at the Capitol last week.
“This president has to answer for inciting a terrorist mob with guns, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, violent confrontations with law enforcement officers, ultimately killing one of them who was just doing his duty, and innocent people dying as well,” he says. “Yes, the president has to be held accountable for it.”
Congressional lawmakers will have to answer the question of whether the Constitution allows for an impeachment trial to take place after a president is no longer in office.
“Well, there's no clarity because we've never faced anything quite like this before,” Durbin says. “But I believe that the fact that this president will be the first to have been impeached twice in office speaks for itself, and I think the Senate should move forward. We should have an actual trial.”
On what the Senate impeachment trial could look like
“The last time we had a trial on President Trump's impeachment if you'll remember, Sen. McConnell would not allow us to produce any evidence or witnesses. Well, the fact of the matter is we don't need that presentation. We're eyewitnesses, many of us, are eyewitnesses to what actually occurred.”
On if enough Senate Republicans will join Democrats in a vote to convict the president
“We haven't taken a count. It's not the type of thing that you whip like an ordinary amendment or bill. But I'll tell you, the statements that were made by members of the Republican majority in the Senate of what they saw and what they witnessed and the way they voted incidentally on the electoral vote tells me that they were shaken as much as the Democrats.”
On if the Senate can handle an impeachment trial, the pandemic and confirming Biden’s cabinet all at the same time
“Yes. Yes, we can do that. And we will. If it's the assignment of the House to take up our constitutional responsibility, we will do it. Joe Biden as president will move quickly to do what's necessary to stem the pandemic, and we'll be there to help him. If we have to work a half day on the impeachment trial and a half day to make sure that those timely actions are taken, we can do it.”
On if the Capitol is prepared for more violence in the days leading up to the inauguration
“Well, we certainly were unprepared for what happened on January the 6th, and the law enforcement that was in place was overwhelmed. We've seen the videos of that. That's not going to happen again. If these people are so foolish as to come back to Washington, they're going to find a much different scene on Capitol Hill. Breaks my heart. I'll tell you, I've worked in and around that Capitol building most of my life, and to think that it's going to become locked down, a stronghold, to protect the people who are inside, it hurts. It's a different America.”
This segment aired on January 13, 2021.
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