Administration

White House: Biden won’t spend much time watching Trump impeachment trial

President Biden does not plan to watch much of his predecessor’s impeachment trial this week, press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, as the White House takes a hands-off approach to the Senate proceedings for former President Trump.

“The president himself would tell you that we keep him pretty busy and he has a full schedule this week,” Psaki said at a White House press briefing, noting that Biden will visit the Pentagon and the National Institutes of Health and hold meetings and calls focused on his proposed economic relief package making its way through Congress.

“So I think it’s clear from his schedule and from his intention he will not spend too much time watching the proceedings … over the course of this week,” Psaki said, adding that Biden will keep in touch with congressional leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on his COVID-19 relief plan.

“He will remain closely in touch with Speaker Pelosi, Schumer, a range of officials on the Hill about his plan, and that’s exactly what they want him to do. And he will leave the pace and the process and the mechanics of the impeachment process up to members of Congress,” she said.

Trump’s trial will kick off in the Senate on Tuesday. The House last month impeached him for inciting violence against the government on Jan. 6, when a mob stormed the Capitol complex in a bid to halt the certification of electoral votes affirming Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

Democratic impeachment managers are poised to argue Trump is “singularly responsible” for the mayhem at the Capitol after he spent weeks spreading false claims that Biden did not legitimately win on Nov. 3, followed by a speech the morning of the riot in which he urged his supporters to head to the Capitol to protest the certification.

Trump’s legal team maintains the proceedings are unconstitutional because the former president is no longer in office, but that even if they are, Trump’s speech was protected under the First Amendment.

The White House has been pressed repeatedly for Biden’s views on the impeachment trial, including whether the president believes Trump should be convicted; whether a speedy trial is more favorable to accomplishing his agenda; and whether there should be witnesses.

Psaki has steadfastly avoided engaging on questions about impeachment, repeatedly pivoting back to Biden’s agenda and deferring questions to congressional leaders.

“I’m just not going to have any more for you, weighing in on impeachment,” she said Monday.

Biden has offered very few thoughts on Trump’s trial, saying earlier Monday he would allow the Senate to determine Trump’s fate.

The White House tactic is a sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s approach to the first impeachment of the former president. Trump weighed in frequently on Twitter as the proceedings played out on television.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Impeachment Jen Psaki Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Senate trial

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