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McConnell proposes delaying Trump's impeachment trial until February

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo taken on November 6, 2019 US President Donald Trump (L) and US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell shake hands at the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing that former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial be delayed until mid-February.

The request comes after Democrats said Thursday that the House of Representatives could send the impeachment charge to the Senate as early as Friday.

Last week, the US House impeached Trump over his support for the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 that left five people dead.

Trump was blamed for inciting an insurrection when the lawmakers were busy certifying the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

The bipartisan effort kicked off in the lower chamber of US Congress in a bid to remove Trump from office before his tenure ended on Wednesday.

Now, Republicans argue that Trump needs time to prepare a defense against the charges and that the House moved quickly on impeachment.  

McConnell proposed that the House send the impeachment charge to the Senate on Jan. 28, and that Trump be given two weeks after that to prepare his pre-trial brief, before the Senate trial starts.

"At this time of strong political passions, Senate Republicans believe it is absolutely imperative that we do not allow a half-baked process to short-circuit the due process that former President Trump deserves or damage the Senate or the presidency," McConnell said in a statement.

His proposal is being reviewed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to a Schumer’s spokesman.

"We received Leader McConnell's proposal that only deals with pre-trial motions late this afternoon. We will review it and discuss it with him," the spokesman said later on Thursday.

Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat has told CNN, "I think Democrats will be open to considering a delay that allows former President Trump time to assemble his legal team and his defense for the impeachment trial, if we are making progress on confirming" Biden's nominees.

Meanwhile, Trump has hired South Carolina-based lawyer Butch Bowers to represent him in his Senate impeachment trial, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Bowers, who served in the US Justice Department under Republican former President George W. Bush, has represented former Republican governors in South Carolina, according to his website.

The source told Reuters that Bowers was recommended by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally.

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