Just before the House was set to vote Wednesday on an article of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with inciting insurrection, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly made clear that he will not reconvene the Senate for a trial this week, a decision that ensures the proceedings will be pushed back until after President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
The Wall Street Journal reported that McConnell's team called the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Wednesday to say that the majority leader "wouldn't reconvene the Senate early to accept an article of impeachment." The Senate is officially set to return on January 19, a day before Biden's inauguration.
"So McConnell will allow Trump to stay in office, issue as many crazy pardons as he likes, and control our military for another seven days."
—Alex Kotch, Exposed by CMD
"McConnell remains a fascist-enabling coward," tweeted progressive strategist Murshed Zaheed, who slammed the corporate media for giving the Kentucky Republican favorable press over his private support for impeaching Trump. McConnell has not publicly said whether he supports impeachment.
"As always, watch what he does not what he says (lies)," Zaheed added.
As Common Dreams reported earlier Wednesday, progressives demanded that McConnell demonstrate his support for Trump's impeachment by agreeing to reconvene the Senate for a trial immediately following the House's expected approval and transmission of the article of impeachment as early as Wednesday afternoon.
"McConnell must move to start an immediate trial in the Senate," Rahna Epting, executive director of advocacy group MoveOn, said in a statement late Tuesday. "We know the forces that attacked the Capitol last week are planning more attacks. We cannot afford to wait one more minute. Every moment Donald Trump is in the White House our nation is put in further danger."
Schumer, for his part, called on McConnell to use a 2004 law "that allows the Senate minority leader and majority leader to jointly reconvene the Senate in times of emergency."
"This is a time of emergency," Schumer said Tuesday. "I've asked him to call the Senate back. All he needs is my agreement—I'm still minority leader—and his agreement, he's majority leader. We could come back ASAP and vote to convict Donald Trump and get him out of office now before any further damage is done."
McConnell's refusal to reconvene the Senate during the final days of the current administration—and his final days as majority leader—further muddies the timeline for an impeachment trial. According to the Washington Post, Biden is currently exploring options to "simultaneously hold a trial of the president and pass urgently needed bills," including coronavirus relief, after he takes office next week.
Meanwhile, some conservatives—including former federal appeals court judge J. Michael Luttig—are claiming that it would be unconstitutional for the Senate to hold an impeachment trial against Trump after he leaves office, an argument that other experts have forcefully rejected. One reason to convict Trump after he leaves office, as commentators have noted, would be the possibility of barring him from holding office again in the future.
"So McConnell will allow Trump to stay in office, issue as many crazy pardons as he likes, and control our military for another seven days," tweeted Alex Kotch, an investigative reporter at Exposed by CMD. "Regardless of what he leaks to the press, McConnell remains Trump's 'Enabler-in-Chief.'"