The drive to impeach Trump is gaining momentum by the hour, and the House will almost certainly approve an article of impeachment sometime between Monday and Wednesday. Even some Republicans are (belatedly) furious with Trump, if only for his putting their own lives in danger by instigating insurrection.
The question then becomes, what happens next? The Senate will not take up the article until just after Trump has left office. Whether McConnell calculated this might happen or whether he realized everyone was just exhausted, he asked for and got unanimous consent to recess until the 19th. (He may have done this to hobble Biden, so that he starts his administration with no confirmed cabinet officers.) So impeachment, critical as it is, and necessary as it is, will not be done in time to remove Trump from office.
But once the Senate does receive the article, it MUST stop all other business and conduct the trial. That will further delay the confirmation process (it can go on the mornings, but slowly), and also delay the Covid relief and other economic packages Biden is asking for.
So James Clyburn, the House majority whip, is saying the Speaker may hold off on sending the article to the Senate (just like the last time) until the time is right:
House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Sunday said House Democrats might wait until after President-elect Joe Biden's first 100 days in office to send any articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, a move that would give the incoming President time to tackle his agenda in Congress before the start of a time-consuming trial.
“We'll take the vote that we should take in the House, and (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) will make the determination as to when is the best time to get that vote and get the managers appointed and move that legislation over to the Senate,” Clyburn told CNN's Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”“It just so happens that if it didn't go over there for 100 days, it could — let's give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running, and maybe we'll send the articles sometime after that,” the South Carolina Democrat added.
I agree with this strategy, and not just because it gives priority to getting Biden’s cabinet in place and his agenda started. There is another factor: If McConnell receives the article on the 19th, while he is still majority leader, he gets to set the rules and procedures for the trial, just like the last time. After the 20th, it will be Schumer who does that. So Trump will actually get a real trial this time instead of the previous sham and coverup.
Once Trump is hauled out of office, impeachment and conviction serves two purposes: It keeps him from ever trying to be president again, something everyone is pointing out. But it serves a broader purpose as well: It says that we as a country will not tolerate this kind of behavior from our elected officials — and it will force every Republican to go on record and pick a side: democracy or sedition.
But that day of reckoning can wait while we take care of more urgent business.