Trump impeachment trial could hamper Biden congressional agenda in first days of presidency
FOX News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram joins 'Your World' with the latest and a look at what comes next
President Trump's Senate impeachment trial could hamper President-elect Joe Biden's congressional agenda in the first days of his presidency if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi transmits the article to the upper chamber before the inauguration, Republicans warn, as Biden himself acknowledges concerns over lawmakers dealing with both.
"Now, the process continues to the Senate — and I hope they’ll deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation," Biden said in his statement Wednesday after the House impeached Trump.
The Senate is in recess and will return on Jan. 19. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told GOP colleagues this week that the upper chamber would not reconvene early to take on impeachment without the consent of all 100 senators.
The House can deliver a message to the secretary of the Senate while they are in recess, informing the Senate that the House has appointed managers to exhibit, or read aloud, the articles of impeachment. But the Senate can take no action on that message until it reconvenes on Jan. 19.
Once the Senate reconvenes, the secretary of the Senate notifies the body of receipt of the message from the House managers, triggering the Senate’s impeachment rules.
During Trump’s January 2020 impeachment trial, and during former President Bill Clinton’s January 1999 impeachment trial, the Senate instructed House managers to exhibit, or read aloud, the articles of impeachment the day after the Senate’s rules were triggered.
Based on Senate Impeachment Rule III, after the articles are exhibited by the House managers, "the Senate shall, at 1 o’clock afternoon of the day… or sooner if ordered by the Senate, proceed to the consideration of" the article.
"Timing is everything, they say," a senior GOP aide told Fox News. "With this reality check, will Pelosi and Schumer be so selfish and shortsighted that they don’t let Biden have his day in the sun (on Inauguration Day) and get a clean start on his mission to heal the nation?"
Biden, earlier this week, told reporters he asked senators if they could "bifurcate" their time between the Senate trial and other "urgent" business.
"Can we go half-day on dealing with the impeachment and half-day getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate?" he told reporters.
The focus of Biden team is Senate confirmations of key Cabinet posts, as well as the Biden agenda.
"I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of the nation," Biden said after Trump was impeached. "From confirmations to key posts such as secretaries for Homeland Security, State, Defense, Treasury and Director of National Intelligence, to getting our vaccine program on track, and to getting our economy going again."
Biden added: "Too many Americans have suffered for too long over the past year to delay this urgent work."
Fox News has learned that the president-elect and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will at the same time aim to drive a unifying message, and will stress that the U.S. "can’t afford to wait" on their policy agenda – specifically regarding COVID-19, the economy and national security – or confirmations.
And another source warned that once the Senate holds the article of impeachment, the upper chamber would fall into "paralysis," saying "we can’t do anything else" but focus on impeachment.
"It steps on Biden’s message," the source said.
Senate committees have begun scheduling hearings to consider Biden nominees this week.
The Senate Intelligence Committee said it would hold a hearing Friday, Jan. 15, to consider the nomination of Avril Haines for director of National intelligence; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced a Jan. 19 hearing for Antony Blinken for secretary of State; and the Senate Finance Committee scheduled a Jan. 19 hearing for Janet Yellen as secretary of the Treasury.
At this point, the Biden team is still awaiting a hearing for Alejandro Mayorkas to be considered as secretary of Homeland Security – which the team said is a critical post that needs confirmation ahead of Biden’s inauguration – and nominee for Defense secretary, Gen. Lloyd Austin.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, who will soon be Senate Majority Leader, is looking at ways to speed through the Senate trial, which would traditionally take weeks and leave little time for other business, according to The Washington Post.
The House on Wednesday made history by voting to impeach Trump for a second time — this time for "incitement of insurrection" after pro-Trump supporters besieged the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a failed attempt to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral college victory.
The House votes 232-197 to impeach the president. Ten Republicans joined with Democrats.
Trump has just one week left in office, but supporters of the impeachment push say he is too dangerous to remain in office for a minute longer. The impeachment resolution condemns Trump for spreading misinformation that he won the election in a landslide, and for riling up a crowd of supporters in Washington D.C. before the riot that killed five people—including a Capitol Police officer.
Unlike the last House impeachment of Trump in December 2019 for soliciting foreign interference in the presidential election, Democrats had GOP support. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, backed impeachment because she said the violent attack at the Capitol could not have happened without Trump.
Meanwhile, McConnell, who signaled support of the impeachment effort, told GOP colleagues Wednesday that he has "not made a final decision" on how he will vote on impeachment.
"While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote, and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate," McConnell said.
McConnell’s comment comes after sources told Fox News that McConnell is "done" and "furious" with the president.
One source told Fox News on Tuesday that McConnell does not see House Democrats’ efforts to impeach Trump as a partisan exercise like the previous impeachment effort in 2019.
Another source told Fox News that McConnell confided to associates that impeachment will help rid the Republican Party of Trump and his movement.
Fox News' Tyler Olson and Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.