One day after President Donald Trump was impeached for an unprecedented second time, it has become increasingly clear that the Senate trial will not take place until after the president is out of office.
The precise timeline for the trial isn't yet known because Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not said when she will send the article of impeachment over to the Senate. Once she does, the Senate must quickly start the trial. The Senate is currently scheduled to be back in session Tuesday, January 19; leader Mitch McConnell says he will not call Senators back prior to that, setting up the possibility, at least, that the trial could begin Wednesday afternoon. The inaugural ceremony begins at noon.
As they did just a year ago, Senators will be required to sit in the chamber during the trial in fulfillment of their role as jurors. The trial must run six days a week until it is complete. Oklahoma's two Republican Senators, James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, are keeping a low profile, not wanting to suggest that they may have already made up their minds on the president's innocence or guilt.
In a statement today, Senator Inhofe said, "Unlike the proceedings last year, which followed the normal, considered process of hearings and testimony, we have not yet reviewed the House's case. Accordingly, I will withhold further comments given my role as a prospective juror."
Meanwhile, the fortification of the Capitol and the area along the National Mall continues, in response to what the FBI indicates are credible threats of violence here and at every state capital in the country. As many as 20,000 members of the National Guard will be in Washington for the event.
In a video posted to his official White House Twitter page last night, President Trump called on his supporters to remain peaceful.
"I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week." said the president. "Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country, and no place in our movement."
Under normal circumstances, the new president and vice president, along with their spouses, would parade from the Capitol to the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue following the swearing in and inaugural speech. That won't happen this year; instead, representatives from every branch of the military. will reportedly escort them to the White House, and there will be a televised "virtual parade" showcasing communities across the country.