Earlier today multiple major news outlets reported that the Senate was planning to start Trump’s impeachment trial as soon as next week. Now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced this evening that it will actually start February 8th.
So what’s going on? Did Schumer suddenly cave to Mitch McConnell? No, absolutely not. That’s not what happened. In fact what happened took place in plain sight today. When President Joe Biden held a signing ceremony late this afternoon, a reporter asked him what his preference was for the timing of the impeachment trial. Biden said he’d prefer that the Senate wait until his nominees are confirmed first. Schumer clearly took a hint from the President, because he then announced that the trial will take place not on January 26th, but on February 8th. Biden still has several nominees to go, their confirmation hearings can each take up to a couple days, so the math adds up.
Nonetheless, this has prompted certain pundits to begin taking opportunistic cheap shots at Schumer, accusing him of having “caved” to McConnell or worse. But it couldn’t be more obvious what really happened, because it happened on live television. This decision came from President Biden, not McConnell or anyone else.
The timing of the trial will work out just fine. Trump is already gone from office, so there’s no immediate urgency to try to hurry up and get him removed. The trial is about convicting him so he can’t run in four years, or if the Republican votes aren’t there, showing the voting public just how guilty Trump is. The only urgency involved is to make sure the trial happens before the public moves on from wanting to hold Trump accountable. But with images of the Capitol attack fresh in their minds, that’s not going to happen in the next two weeks.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report