U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is likely to begin on January 21, a historic event likely to highlight divisions in the American political system and society as a whole.
McConnell, a senior Republican and vocal supporter of the president, on January 14 said some preliminary steps must still be taken, such as the official swearing-in of senators for the case, before the trial can begin.
He made the comments shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives said a vote would be held on January 15 in that chamber to decide whether to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Pelosi on January 14 met with House Democrats about the next steps in the bid to have Trump removed from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
"The American people deserves the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial," she said in a statement.
"The House will now proceed with a vote on transmitting the articles of impeachment and naming impeachment managers on Wednesday, January 15. The president and the senators will be held accountable."
The House, which has the sole power to impeach a president, is likely to approve the motion to send the case to the Senate, given the lower house’s Democratic majority.
However, the Senate is controlled by Republicans, meaning that acquittal is almost assured as it would take a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the president from office. The Republicans have 53 seats in the chamber.
The House impeached Trump last month on charges of abuse of power over pushing Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and obstruction of Congress in the following investigation.
Trump has called the process a “sham,” while many Republicans in the Senate have already indicated their support for the president.
Two previous presidential cases have gone to the Senate for trial.
President Andrew Johnson was acquitted in 1868 and Bill Clinton was cleared in 1999 following Senate trials.
U.S. Senate Leader Says Impeachment Trial Likely To Begin On January 21