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Senate impeachment trial likely to overlap start of Biden presidency

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Senate Impeachment Trial
Senate Impeachment Trial

MADISON (WKOW) -- The second Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will almost certainly happen during Joe Biden's presidency after Mitch McConnell said he won't call an emergency session.

"The Senate is going to have a lot on its plate starting on January 20," political science professor Barry Burden said.

In addition to the trial, senators will be tasked with confirmation processes for Joe Biden's cabinet nominees and normal legislative business.

"There's going to be a log jam in the Senate," Kenneth Mayer, another political science professor at UW-Madison, said.

However, it's not certain that the impeachment trial will begin right away.

The Senate has to wait for the House to send over the article of impeachment before a trial can begin.

Constitutional law professor Howard Schweber said there's no set timeline for what comes next.

"There's no rule that says the Senate has to take them up immediately," he said. "We're in entirely uncharted waters, but my guess is the Senate would move to a trial on this issue, perhaps a month after Biden takes office."

Burden said a delay in the trial would give Biden a chance to assemble his cabinet and give Senators time to consider legislation.

"It gives the Biden administration a little breathing room to get on its feet," he said. "Trump is already leaving office, so there's no urgency in getting this done next week."

He said a delayed trial would also give Democrats time to regain the Senate majority.

The two newly-elected Democratic Senators from Georgia have not been seated yet, and once Kamala Harris becomes Vice President, her replacement will need to be sworn in, too.

Burden said these votes will be crucial in the trial.

Even with the trial coming after Trump leaves office, Mayer said a conviction could still have consequences.

"A conviction can also come with a ruling that the convicted official is no longer eligible to run for any federal office," he said. "That would be a way for the Senate to say that Trump can't run for president, he can he can't run for office again."

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Caroline Dade

Reporter/Multimedia Journalist, 27 News

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