Senator Patrick Leahy Is Expected to Preside: Impeachment Update

The U.S. House’s single article of impeachment of former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol is to be delivered ceremoniously by a contingent of House members walking across the Capitol to the Senate on Monday evening.

House Democratic impeachment managers, who will prosecute the case, and Trump’s defense team will have until the week of Feb. 8 to draft opposing briefs under an accord that gives the two sides time to prepare and senators time to consider President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees and begin work on his Covid-relief plan.

Key Developments:

  • Senate Deal Delays Trump Trial, Clears Way for Biden Nominees
  • Trump-DOJ Election ‘Plot’ Will be Probed by Senate Democrats
  • How This Trump Impeachment Trial Compares With First: QuickTake

Senator Leahy Expected to Preside Over the Trial

Senator Patrick Leahy, the Senate president pro tempore, is expected to preside over the trial that will begin formally when the Senate is sworn in to service on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Washington time, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, could make rulings that could give Democrats an edge on procedure.

There’s been much conjecture on who would be in the presiding officer’s chair. The Constitution requires that the Supreme Court’s chief justice preside over impeachments of presidents. But Trump is no longer president, so Chief Justice John Roberts won’t be filling that role as he did in Trump’s first impeachment trial.

As a legal matter, the issue lacks any clear precedent, though a 1993 Supreme Court decision suggests the judiciary might defer to the Senate. In that case, the court said it was a “political question” — and therefore beyond the purview of the courts — when an impeached judge objected to the use of a Senate committee to hear evidence as part of his trial.

Leahy, 80, is the longest-serving sitting senator, having been elected in 1974 in the wake of Watergate. He’s a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee and is the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

— Steven Dennis and Greg Stohr

A Ritual Delivery From House to Senate (12: 15 p.m.)

When House managers walk the article of impeachment against Trump across the Capitol at about 6:55 p.m. Washington time Monday evening, they’ll be repeating a ritual that dates back to President Andrew Johnson’s 19th century trial.

House Clerk Cheryl Johnson and Timothy Blodgett, the House’s acting sergeant at arms, will lead a procession along with the nine House managers who will argue the case for impeachment in the Senate trial. Their arrival will trigger the formal start of proceedings.

The route through the House’s Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate was first followed in 1868 by Representative Thaddeus Stevens one day after the House voted to impeach Johnson. Stevens was so weak from an illness that he had to be carried in a chair by attendants.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler followed the same route last year to start Trump’s first impeachment trial, with each House manager carrying a blue leather-bound notebook.

This time, the lead impeachment manager, Representative Jamie Raskin, will read the article of impeachment on the Senate floor, charging Trump with incitement to insurrection. Then the nine managers are scheduled to return to the House.

The Senate will be sworn in to service on the trial on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Washington time. — Mike Dorning

— With assistance by Mike Dorning, Steven T. Dennis, and Greg Stohr

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