Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reportedly struck a deal with his successor as majority leader.
The Washington Examiner reported Saturday that McConnell and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have agreed to postpone the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump until mid-February.
Striking a deal
The House voted 232–197 earlier this month to impeach Trump on a single charge that he incited an “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol, according to NPR. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to submit the article to the upper chamber on Monday.
But thanks to an agreement from McConnell and Schumer, the Senate won’t be rushing to take a look at it. A trial isn’t set to start until Feb. 9, the Examiner reports.
In the meantime, the Senate can continue working to confirm President Joe Biden’s Cabinet appointments, while Trump will have the chance to prepare a solid defense, as the Examiner notes. The delay also gives Democrats a chance to move forward on additional coronavirus relief legislation.
The deal comes after Senate Republicans had complained about proposals to split the upper chamber’s time between regular business and an impeachment trial. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said such an arrangement would have been unprecedented.
“If you want to impeach the president, we’re going to do it like we’ve always done it,” he said, according to the Examiner. “They’re choosing to do this. We’re going to do it the way we’ve always done it. We’ve never split the day.”
The future for McConnell
With that, the trial is set to start in just over two weeks. Schumer announced as much Friday, the Examiner reported separately.
Reports suggest that postponing the proceedings is what McConnell has wanted all along. But more than just delaying Trump’s trial, the move also delays a day of reckoning for the Republican leader.
The fact of the matter is that this trial may end up being more consequential for McConnell than the former president. While the senator has not come out in favor of voting to convict Trump, he also has not come out as against it — and recent reports suggest he may be leaning against the ex-commander-in-chief.
Such a move would put McConnell at odds with Trump’s supporters, who still make up a big part of the GOP base; during his last week in office, Trump had the approval of a whopping 87% of Republicans, according to NBC News.
Will a vote to convict Trump be the final nail in the coffin for McConnell’s political career? Only time will tell.