WASHINGTON (January 13, 2021) — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday rejected a Democratic attempt to swiftly call the Senate into emergency session to hold an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, all but assuring that those proceedings won't occur until after Trump leaves office.
The Senate is currently in recess and isn't scheduled to return to hold a business session until Jan. 19, the day before Biden's inauguration. By law, the Senate can be summoned to return for an emergency session if the two party leaders, McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agree to do so.
Schumer has called for an emergency Senate meeting so it can remove Trump from office before his term expires.
A McConnell spokesman confirmed Wednesday that McConnell aides had told Schumer’s office that McConnell would not agree to an emergency session. The spokesman offered no explanation of McConnell's reasoning.
The Democratic-led House was moving Wednesday toward certain approval of an impeachment article accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, an unprecedented second impeachment of his presidency. Democrats claim Trump is responsible for the small group of supporters who took part in a riot last Wednesday at the U.S. Capital.
It is unclear how many Republicans would vote to convict Trump in a Senate trial, but it appears plausible that several would do so. So far, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has said she wants Trump to resign and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has said he would “definitely consider” House impeachment articles.
Speaking out against impeachment Wednesday was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. A once-bitter Trump foe, Graham became one of his closest allies during his presidency, then lambasted him over last week's Capitol invasion but has since spent time with Trump.
Impeaching Trump now would “do great damage to the institutions of government and could invite further violence," Graham said in a statement. He said Trump's millions of backers “should not be demonized because of the despicable actions of a seditious mob," but he did not specifically defend Trump's actions last week.
“If there was a time for America’s political leaders to bend a knee and ask for God’s counsel and guidance, it is now. The most important thing for leaders to do in times of crisis is to make things better, not worse," Graham said.