The latest on the Biden presidency and Trump impeachment trial

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0527 GMT (1327 HKT) January 26, 2021
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8:18 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

The House formally delivered an impeachment article against Trump to the Senate. Here's what happens next.

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju

Senat
Senat

The House impeachment managers formally triggered the start of former President Trump's second impeachment trial Monday evening after they walked across the Capitol and read on the Senate floor the charge against Trump, the first president in history to be impeached twice.

The House's transmission of the single impeachment article is the first of several ceremonial functions of the trial that will be completed this week, before the Senate will turn back to confirming President Biden's Cabinet and potentially taking up the President's Covid-19 relief package.

Here's what we know about the trial schedule:

The next two weeks: On Tuesday, senators will be sworn in for the trial as jurors. Meanwhile, Trump's legal team and the House managers will have two weeks to exchange pre-trial briefs. The schedule gives Trump's legal team time to prepare for the trial, after he only hired a lawyer, South Carolinian Butch Bowers, last week. For Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Biden administration, the two-week break allows for more of Biden's Cabinet to be confirmed, as all other Senate business will stop once the trial gets underway, after Republicans rejected agreeing to split the Senate's days.

Time frame of the trial: The trial itself will get underway the week of Feb. 8. The exact time frame of the trial itself is unknown, but multiple impeachment managers have said they don't think it will go as long as the 21 days of Trump's trial in 2020. The expectation is still, however, that it will take up much of February and wrap up by month's end, if not sooner.

Who will preside over the trial? Chief Justice John Roberts will not be presiding like he did for Trump's first impeachment trial, according to two sources familiar with the matter. Instead, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the president pro tempore of the Senate, is expected to preside, the sources said. The Constitution says the chief justice presides when the person facing trial is the current president of the United States, but senators preside in other cases, one source said.

Read more about Trump's impeachment case here.

7:50 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Democratic Rep. Lieu calls procession of impeachment article "historic"

From CNN's Ryan Nobles, Kristin Wilson and Annie Grayer

Rep. Ted Lieu, one of the House impeachment managers, described the procession of the article of impeachment to the Senate as “historic.”

The California Democrat refused however to offer any details on the Democratic trial strategy. When asked if he could comment, Lieu replied, “I’ll get in trouble.”

Several of other House impeachment managers also declined to comment after delivering the article to the Senate.

“I'm not gonna comment right now, I’m going to let articles speak for themselves,” said Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, a House impeachment manager.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, also declined to speak to reporters after the procession to the Senate.

7:32 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Trump begins speaking with impeachment lawyer, even as he scrambles to build defense team

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Manu Raju

Former President Trump is still working to assemble a full legal team for his Senate impeachment trial, people familiar with the matter told CNN on Monday, even as he has begun to craft a defense strategy with Butch Bowers, the South Carolina lawyer who has agreed to represent Trump in the historic proceedings.

Bowers, a respected lawyer from Columbia, South Carolina who once worked in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, has been in conversation with Trump in recent days, according to two people familiar with the matter. Bowers was connected to Trump by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is also helping to add new lawyers to the team. 

Charlie Condon, a former South Carolina attorney general who now works in private practice in Charleston, has been approached about joining the legal team, two people familiar with the matter said. In a brief statement to CNN on Monday evening, Condon wrote: “I am not representing former President Trump. Thanks.” 

But two weeks before the impeachment is set to begin, Trump is still struggling to find other lawyers to join his team, people familiar with the matter say, as some law firms have raised questions about whether they would be paid and other lawyers have expressed a reluctance to associate themselves with the deadly insurrection of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Asked if he thinks Trump's defense team will want to call witnesses, Graham, a close ally of Trump, said he did not know, adding, "I can't imagine who you'd call" and noting that the House did not have anyone testify in their impeachment proceedings.

The South Carolina Republican argued for dismissing the trial based on a "constitutional lack of jurisdiction."

Graham said he talked to Trump yesterday, while the former president was golfing in Florida.

Asked about Trump's mindset and preparations ahead of his second impeachment trial, Graham said, "Well, I think he'd like to get it over with." He said he "wouldn't think" Trump would come back from Florida for his trial, again emphasizing the desire for a quick trial.

 

7:22 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Biden says Trump's impeachment trial "has to happen"

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

President Biden just did a brief one-on-one interview with CNN in the halls of the West Wing and offered his most extensive comments since taking office on former President Trump's impeachment trial. 

"I think it has to happen," Biden said regarding Trump's impeachment trial. He acknowledged the effect it could have on his legislative agenda and Cabinet nominees but said there would be "a worse effect if it didn't happen."

Biden told CNN he believed the outcome would be different if Trump had six months left in his term, but said he doesn't think 17 Republican senators will vote to convict Trump. 

"The Senate has changed since I was there, but it hasn't changed that much," Biden said. 

7:51 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Rep. Raskin to fellow impeachment managers: "Proud of you guys"

From CNN's Kristin Wilson, Annie Grayer and Ted Barrett

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager, turned around to face the other impeachment managers as they lined up to make the walk to the Senate, patted himself on the chest and said, “proud of you guys.”

As the reading of the impeachment article happens in the Senate, there are only a couple of Republicans on the room, including Sens. Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney.

7:15 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

House managers deliver impeachment article to Senate

J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The House impeachment managers have formally introduced the article of impeachment against former President Trump to the Senate.

What's next: The acting Sergeant at Arms, Jennifer Hemingway, will be instructed by the presiding officer to read this proclamation: 

“All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump.”

Lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin will then read on the Senate floor the charge against Trump, the first President in history to be impeached twice. (You can read the article here.)

The House managers' actions today formally trigger the start of Trump's second impeachment trial.

It will also be the fourth Senate impeachment trial of a president in US history.

7:08 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

The article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate soon. Here's what to expect.

From CNN's Ted Barrett

The article of impeachment against former President Trump is set to be delivered to the Senate soon.

According to a Democratic aide, this is what we should expect on the Senate floor at around 7 p.m. ET:

  • The House impeachment managers will be escorted on the floor by the acting Sergeant at Arms and/or the Secretary of the Senate.
  • The acting Sergeant at Arms, Jennifer Hemingway, will be instructed by the presiding officer to read this proclamation: “All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump.”
  • Lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, will read the article aloud.  It’s not very long, about four pages of relevant text — you can read the article here.
  • The presiding officer will then inform the managers that the Senate “will take proper order on the subject of impeachment” and tell the managers when they should return to trial.  

That should be it.

The Senate is expected to meet Tuesday when senators will be sworn-in as jurors. The trial, of course, won’t begin in earnest until the week of Feb. 8.

6:38 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Senate committee votes to send secretary of state nomination to the floor

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday evening voted to send Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s nomination to the Senate floor for confirmation.

The vote was 15-3 with Republican Sens. John Barrasso, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz voting against his nomination.

A Democratic aide told CNN that they are pushing for a floor vote to confirm Blinken tomorrow. 

During his confirmation hearing last week, Blinken told the committee that if he is confirmed, he aims to reengage with Congress in a bipartisan fashion, an implicit criticism of his predecessor's combative relationship with some lawmakers.

6:29 p.m. ET, January 25, 2021

Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

From CNN's Clare Foran, Anneken Tappe and Matt Egan

The Senate just voted on a bipartisan basis to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, making her the first woman in American history to hold the position.

The vote was 84-15.

As head of the Treasury, she'll be tasked with shepherding President Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan through Congress and overseeing its execution. The plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and increased funding for Covid-19 vaccinations and testing.