Democrats reject timing impeachment to accommodate senators running for president


Democratic leaders in the House and Senate said they won’t change the schedule for impeaching President Trump or holding a trial in order to accommodate the field of Senate Democrats running for president.

“The bottom line is, impeachment is one of the most solemn responsibilities that the Constitution gives the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told reporters Tuesday. “We are not going to let scheduling requests get in the way of that solemn responsibility, period.”

Six senators are running for president as Democrats: Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

They face a critical 10 weeks of campaigning ahead of the first contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, which will play a critical role in determining who will become the Democratic nominee.

But their time on the campaign trail could be curtailed if the Senate is handed articles of impeachment by the House.

Under Senate rules, the chamber would be compelled to conduct a trial that could last weeks or months and would mandate senators attend six days per week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested the impending presidential campaign season may encourage Democrats to quickly wrap a Senate trial. The Kentucky Republican has predicted a Senate would fail to garner the 67 votes needed to force Trump out of office.

“I’m sure they’ll be excited to be here in their chairs,” McConnell said of the Senate Democrats running for president.

“It comes over here and displaces all other business,” McConnell said. “And we’ll be on it until the Senate decides to reach a conclusion.”

The Senate trial would start after the House votes to send over articles of impeachment.

While those articles appear inevitable, Democrats say they don’t have a timeline for wrapping up their weekslong proceeding into allegations Trump abused his office by seeking Ukraine’s help investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival.

The impeachment schedule won’t hinge of the Democratic presidential primary, House Democratic leaders said Tuesday.

“Neither polls nor elections are going to change our timing,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. “The relevant issue is that we do what is our responsibility and that is to do oversight.”

Lawmakers must also “conclude whether the president of the United States abused his power.”

The Iowa caucuses take place on Feb. 3, followed by the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11, the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22, and the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29.

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