President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is officially getting underway today. But how long will the impeachment trial last today, January 21, 2020 and then through the rest of the weeks to come? Here is what we know so far. Please note that schedules can change without notice depending on what is happening.
The Trial Today Could Last 6 to 12 Hours, Depending on What Happens
The impeachment trial on Tuesday, January 21 got underway at 1 p.m. Eastern, with the Senate coming into session at 12 p.m. Eastern. The trial is going to be extensive, taking place six days a week, Monday through Saturday, and starting at 1 p.m. Eastern every day.
According to a resolution by Mitch McConnell, the trial could include opening arguments in the first week, CNN reported. Most broadcast companies, along with TV Guide’s posted schedules, are anticipating that today’s trial will wrap up around 7 p.m. Eastern. However, there’s a possibility that it could go on longer, possibly even lasting for 12 hours until 1 a.m. Eastern. There’s also a small chance that Trump’s legal team will move to dismiss the entire trial, which the Republican Senators might approve since they have a majority. If that’s the case, the trial could end a lot faster than anyone is expecting.
The Impeachment Schedule
Today, the Senate is voting on McConnell’s resolution and the rules for the impeachment trial. Opening arguments could begin as early as Wednesday at 1 p.m. Eastern and last until 1 a.m. Eastern each day.
As for the exact schedule, it could get a little confusing. Democrats want to call witnesses, but Mitch McConnell’s resolution doesn’t allow for that. So debates on these topics will be in a closed session, AP noted. Expect much of today to revolve around resolutions for organizing the impeachment, along with motions on evidence and witnesses.
House impeachment managers will then have two days (12 hours each day) to give opening arguments. Trump’s legal defense will also be given two days (12 hours each) to give their opening arguments. Each side doesn’t have to take their entire time period.
In other words that means:
- Tuesday: Voting on rules and motions can be made by Wednesday morning (which might include a motion to dismiss)
- Wednesday, October 22: Prosecution arguments, possibly from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern
- Thursday, October 23: Prosecution arguments, possibly from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern
- Friday, October 24: Defense arguments, possibly from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern
- Saturday, October 25: Defense arguments, possibly from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern
- Sunday, October 26: Day off
- Monday, October 27-Tuesday, October 28: Q&A to legal defense teams
- After this, it’s unclear. There might be witnesses or there might not. The Senate would have to vote on what evidence is allowed.
- If witnesses are allowed, they would be deposed first and then it would be determined if they could testify.
Senators have been given 16 hours to ask questions in writing of the legal teams through Chief Justice John Roberts. Whether or not witnesses will be called is still a question that is being debated. Witnesses would be deposed before giving live testimony (if they gave live testimony.)
You can read the full proposed rules for the trial here.
In the end, the Senate will vote on the two articles of impeachment that the House approved. More than likely, since the Republicans have the majority, Trump will not be removed from office. A 2/3 majority of the Senate’s 100 members would need to vote for the President to be removed from office. A total of 67 Senators would need to vote to convict and remove Trump. There are 45 Democrat Senators and 53 Republican Senators, plus two Independents who typically vote Democrat. So to reach the 67 total needed to remove Trump, they would need at least 20 Republicans to join. That’s just not likely to happen.