Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made a surprising last-ditch effort to stall the impeachment of President Trump.
On January 13, McConnell’s office informed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer‘s staff that Republicans will not agree to reconvene the Senate before Inauguration Day to hold an impeachment trial while President Trump is still in office.
The Hill reports: “A senior Senate Republican aide confirmed that McConnell’s office reached out to Schumer’s office to relay the message that Republicans will not agree to a Friday session to enable House Democrats to present an article of impeachment to the Senate while Trump is in office.”
In a memo circulated to colleagues last week, McConnell said that the Senate will be unable to conduct business on the floor until senators are scheduled to return to the Capitol on January 19, unless there is unanimous agreement from all 100 senators to reconvene sooner.
The memo stated that, without that unanimous consent, the impeachment trial of President Trump would not be allowed to begin until 1 p.m. on January 20. At that time, Joe Biden will have already been sworn in as president.
“It would require the consent of all 100 senators to conduct any business of any kind during the scheduled pro forma sessions prior to January 19,” the memo also states.
“The Senate trial would therefor begin after President Trump’s term has expired — either one hour after its expiration on Jan. 20 or twenty-five hours after its expiration on Jan. 21,” it continues.
On January 12, Schumer disputed the claim that unanimous consent was required, saying that legislation passed in 2004 allows the Senate majority and minority leaders to reconvene the Senate at any time to respond to emergencies.
“There was legislation passed in 2004 that allows the Senate minority and majority leader to jointly reconvene the Senate in times of emergency. This is a time of emergency,” Schumer said.
“I’ve asked him to call the Senate back — all he needs is my agreement, I’m still minority leader,” he said.