US House Democrats are pushing for a quick impeachment trial for Donald Trump over the riots at the Capitol, arguing a full reckoning is necessary before the country – and the Congress – can move on.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could send the article charging the former president with “incitement of insurrection” to the Senate as soon as Friday, setting up an immediate trial at the weekend or next week.
Democrats say lawmakers can move quickly because they were all witnesses to the siege, many of them fleeing for safety as the rioters descended on the Capitol.
“It will be soon. I don’t think it will be long but we must do it,” Ms Pelosi said on Thursday.
She said Mr Trump did not deserve a “get out of jail card” in his historic second impeachment just because he has left office and President Joe Biden and others are calling for national unity.
Ms Pelosi said she would talk to her impeachment managers, the nine House prosecutors she selected to argue the case before the Senate jury, “in the next few days” about when the Senate might be ready for a trial.
Mr Trump told thousands of supporters to “fight like hell” against the election results that Congress was certifying on January 6 just before an angry mob invaded the Capitol and interrupted the count.
Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the mayhem and the House impeached the outgoing president a week later, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in support.
Ms Pelosi said it would be “harmful to unity” to forget “people died here on January 6th, the attempt to undermine our election, to undermine our democracy, to dishonour our Constitution”.
Though Ms Pelosi can trigger the trial by transmitting the article to the Senate, the timing of the trial could also depend on discussions between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who are negotiating how to run the new 50-50 Senate.
Democrats hope to conduct the proceedings while also confirming Mr Biden’s cabinet appointments and passing legislation his priority legislation, including coronavirus relief, but they would need co-operation from Senate Republicans to do that.
Senator Schumer told reporters he was still negotiating with Senator McConnell on how to conduct the trial, “but make no mistake about it. There will be a trial, there will be a vote, up or down or whether to convict the president.”