House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said she expects former President Trump’s Senate trial to begin “soon” so that Trump won’t receive a “get out of jail card” because he’s left office.
The House impeached Trump last week for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that interrupted certification of President Biden’s victory, but some Democrats want to delay the trial to avoid distracting from Biden’s early legislative agenda.
“It will be soon. I don’t think it will be long. But we must do it,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference.
“I’ll be talking with the managers as to when the Senate will be ready for the trial of the then-president of the United States for his role in instigating an insurrection on the Capitol of the United States, on our democracy, to undermine the will of the people.”
Pelosi has not yet transmitted the single article of impeachment to the Senate, meaning a trial can’t start. She said at the press conference that she was waiting for the Senate to return to session, and that now she’s considering “other questions.”
“We had to wait for the Senate to be in session. They’ve now informed us they’re ready to receive, the question is other questions about how a trial will proceed. But we are — we are ready,” Pelosi said.
Asked if she could give specific timing, Pelosi said “nope.”
Although Biden stressed “unity” after taking office on Wednesday, Pelosi said Trump must be put on trial for the riot that resulted in the deaths of five people.
“Just because he’s now gone, thank God, you don’t say to a president, ‘Do whatever you want in the last month of your administration, you’re going to get a get out of jail card free because people think we should make nice nice and forget that people died here on Jan. 6’,” she said.
Pelosi said less evidence is needed than at Trump’s first impeachment trial, which ended in February with Republicans acquitting Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
“The whole world bore witness to the president’s incitement, to the execution of his call to action and the violence that was used,” Pelosi said.
“I do see a big difference between something that we all witnessed versus what information you might need to substantiate an article of impeachment based on a large part on a call that the president made… This is different.”
At least 17 Republican votes are needed in the Senate to convict Trump — a steep climb, though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is publicly open to conviction. If Trump is convicted, he could be banned from holding office again.