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Trump impeachment collides with Biden's agenda

The potential for another Trump impeachment trial is threatening to upend quick action in the Senate on President-elect Joe BidenJoe Biden28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas ceasefire Franklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Schools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning MORE's Cabinet picks and legislative agenda.

House Democrats appear poised to impeach President TrumpDonald TrumpFranklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Man suspected in wife's disappearance accused of casting her ballot for Trump Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' MORE for a second time on Wednesday, setting the stage for a Senate trial that’s unlikely to start before Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.

The effort is throwing a curveball into Biden’s plan to “hit the ground running” — with the party poised to control the White House and Congress for the first time since 2010 — and forcing Democrats to scramble to find ways to keep the administration’s first 100 days on track.

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Biden, speaking to reporters, said his aides were in talks with the Senate parliamentarian staff about whether it would be possible to divide the Senate’s day between confirmation votes for nominees and taking up legislation and holding an impeachment trial.

“Can we go half day on dealing with impeachment, and half day getting my people nominated and confirmed in the Senate as well as moving on the package?” Biden asked. “I haven’t gotten an answer from the parliamentarian yet.”

Absent a larger agreement among Senate leadership, the trial would start at noon each day, but with no proceedings on Sundays. That would limit the amount of time for lawmakers to tackle other items on the to-do list for Biden’s first 100 days.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) indicated he wants to find a way to juggle both, saying “we got to move the agenda as well.”

"We'd like to do it in the first few months," Schumer told the Buffalo News about the need for coronavirus and infrastructure legislation. "Of course, we have to get the nominees in place, and we hope our Republican friends, at such a crucial time, won't hold up these nominees."

But Schumer will need cooperation from Republicans, most of whom aren’t defending Trump in the wake of last week’s Capitol riots but also aren’t publicly supportive of voting to convict him even after he leaves office. The Senate did not take up any legislation or nominations amid Trump’s impeachment trial last year, which lasted just under three weeks with no witnesses called.

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Though Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals Hillicon Valley: Colonial Pipeline attack underscores US energy's vulnerabilities | Biden leading 'whole-of-government' response to hack | Attorneys general urge Facebook to scrap Instagram for kids MORE (R-Neb.) has said he is open to considering articles of impeachment, and Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Senate panel deadlocks over Biden pick to lead DOJ civil rights division Senate GOP dismayed by vote to boot Cheney MORE (R-Alaska) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) have called on Trump to resign, no GOP senator has pledged to vote for convicting Trump as part of a Senate trial. 

The looming collision between an impeachment trial and Biden’s agenda comes as House Democrats appear ready to impeach Trump on Wednesday, which will make him the first president to go through the process twice.

The article of impeachment, drafted by Democratic Reps. David CicillineDavid CicillineRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Democrat moves to censure three Republicans for downplaying Jan. 6 Democrats reintroduce legislation to ban 'ghost guns' MORE (R.I.), Ted LieuTed W. LieuAsian American lawmakers say State's 'assignment restrictions' discriminate Democrats, activists blast Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Lawmakers praise Biden for expected recognition of Armenian Genocide MORE (Calif.) and Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinWatchdog finds Architect of the Capitol was sidelined from security planning ahead of Jan. 6 Six House Democrats ask Garland to review case of lawyer placed under house arrest over Chevron suit Democrats seek to keep spotlight on Capitol siege MORE (Md.), states that Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”

The House vote will come a week after Trump, in a speech outside the White House, falsely claimed that he had won the election and urged thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol and back his GOP allies, using words like “you have to show strength” and “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

If the House votes to impeach Trump on Wednesday, Democratic leadership indicated they are undecided on when they would send the article to the Senate, in an apparent acknowledgement of how a trial could hamper the early days of the Biden administration.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerWhat's a party caucus chair worth? House fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (D-Md.) indicated that his preference was to send the article of impeachment immediately to the Senate.

“Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue,” he told reporters on Monday.

But Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the No. 3 House Democrat, floated the possibility that the House could delay transmission of the article to the Senate to give Biden’s administration time to get off the ground amid a frayed, strained Washington. 

“Let's give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Clyburn added. “And maybe we will send the articles some time after that.”

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanFudge violated the Hatch Act, watchdog finds Democrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Tim Ryan touts labor support in Senate bid MORE (D-Ohio) aligned himself with Clyburn, saying that absent a surge in GOP support for impeachment, an alternative would be to “have a period of time where we allow Joe Biden to begin his administration, especially around the vaccine and distribution, testing and the economy and be able to move swiftly in the first 100 days.”

“Then the Senate can deal with the impeachment,” he added.

The potential that a Trump impeachment trial could overshadow his first few weeks in office comes as Biden was only facing headaches in the Senate. Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinPush to combat sexual assault in military reaches turning point Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate MORE, Biden’s pick to lead the Pentagon, is the only top official who has a confirmation hearing scheduled — one day before Inauguration Day.

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And though Democrats will control a slim 50-50 majority, because Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHere's why Joe Biden polls well, but Kamala Harris does not Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border MORE can break a tie, they’ll still need GOP support to pass most legislation because of the 60-vote legislative filibuster. 

Underscoring the concern, Schumer is exploring whether leadership can bring the Senate back earlier under authority given to the two top Senate leaders in a 2004 resolution to be used during times of emergency. The effort would require Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Washington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden MORE’s (R-Ky.) to sign off but would allow the Senate to move up the timing of a trial.

McConnell has been mum on impeachment or other efforts to remove Trump from office, namely the 25th Amendment. Spokespeople didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether he would support Schumer’s effort for an early return.

But under a memo circulated by McConnell, a trial in the Senate would be unlikely to start before Biden is sworn in, marking the first time the impeachment trial of a president would take place after they have left office.

Senate impeachment rules require that at 1 p.m. on the day after the managers exhibit the articles, the Senate “must proceed to their consideration,” the memo states.

The Senate is out of session, beyond brief pro forma sessions, until Jan. 19. If the Senate wanted to start the trial early, they would need consent from every member, something that Trump’s conservative allies would be unlikely to provide.

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As a result, the Senate trial would not begin until one hour after Biden takes the oath of office on Jan. 20.

“The Senate trial would therefore 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,” the memo states.

Though many Senate Democrats have thrown their support behind impeaching Trump, several, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), haven’t yet weighed in. And Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe imminent crises facing Joe Biden Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon New York, New Jersey, California face long odds in scrapping SALT  MORE (D-W.Va.) — who, like Sinema, occupies the caucus’s centrist wing — called the House impeachment plan “ill-advised.”

"I think this is so ill-advised for Joe Biden to be coming in, trying to heal the country, trying to be the president of all the people when we are going to be so divided and fighting again. Let the judicial system do its job," Manchin told Fox News. 

Manchin argued that there is not the two-thirds vote needed to convict Trump in the Senate and “we’ve been trying to send that message over” to the House. 

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsNew York, New Jersey, California face long odds in scrapping SALT  Biden to go one-on-one with Manchin US, Iran signal possible breakthroughs in nuke talks MORE (D-Del.), one of Biden’s closest allies who has good ties with GOP senators, said he would vote to convict Trump if the House impeaches but pointed to the 25th Amendment or Trump voluntarily resigning as his first pick. 

“I understand the concerns that just as President Biden takes over responsibility for leading our nation through this tragic pandemic that we might be distracted by weeks in the Senate by a Senate trial,” Coons told CBS News. “That's why I have called for President Trump to do the right thing finally and resign.”