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Republicans seek delay of Trump impeachment until February

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Republicans in the US Senate are demanding that Democrats delay the start of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial until February.

They argue this will give Mr Trump time to prepare a defence.

He is accused of inciting insurrection after supporters of his stormed the Capitol this month.

House of Representatives’ Democrats are ready to hand the charge to the Senate.

Mr Trump flew to Florida as his term ended on Wednesday, skipping his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration.

On 6 January, the then president told protesters near the White House to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard as they prepared to march towards the US Capitol building.

He also told them to “fight like hell”.

The demonstration turned ugly as a mob forced its way into the congressional complex where lawmakers were certifying Mr Biden’s election victory.

Four protesters and a Capitol Police officer died in the mayhem.

A week later, Mr Trump became the first US president to be impeached twice.

His trial in the Senate will be the only one ever to have taken place after a president has left office.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell

On a call to his fellow Republican senators on Thursday, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he had asked House Democrats to hold off sending the single impeachment article to the Senate until 28 January – a move which would kick-start the trial’s first phase.

Under this timetable, Mr Trump would then have two weeks – until 11 February – to submit his pre-trial defence.

Arguments would be expected to begin in mid-February.

Republicans, who as of Wednesday no longer control the Senate, need the new Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, to agree to the idea.

Mr McConnell said in a statement, “Senate Republicans are strongly united behind the principle that the institution of the Senate, the office of the presidency, and former President Trump himself all deserve a full and fair process that respects his rights and the serious factual, legal, and constitutional questions at stake.”

Senator John Cornyn of Texas told Reuters news agency that he and fellow Republicans had been discussing the need to allow Mr Trump “due process”.

Ten Republicans sided with House Democrats in impeaching the outgoing president on 14 January.

AFP

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