President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could begin next Tuesday, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, potentially scrambling the campaign schedules of several senators running for president.
McConnell announced the prospective schedule at a press event Tuesday, saying the start date depends on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the two articles of impeachment to the Senate, NBC News reported. Pelosi has said she would do so this Wednesday, if the House approves, according to The New York Times.
The trial could put pressure on the presidential campaigns of Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet and Bernie Sanders. But experts say that depends on the trial schedule, and how the senators respective campaigns respond.
If the trial starts next Tuesday, it would come at a key moment for Democratic candidates. The Iowa caucuses take place Feb. 3, followed by the eighth Democratic debate Feb. 7 and the New Hampshire primary Feb. 11.
The trial schedule has not been set, but it could take place over a matter of a few days to a few weeks. For perspective, former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial began Jan. 7 and didn’t end until Feb. 12, 1999.
Grant Woodard, an Iowa Democrat who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, said the upcoming trial creates a lot of uncertainty for all the senators running for president and their campaign schedulers.
“I’m not sure what you can do to prepare for this,” he said in an interview with McClatchy News. “It’s not going to be ideal by any stretch of the imagination.”
He said he expects campaigns will rely on their surrogates, such as celebrities and other elected officials, to step forward while the candidates are at the impeachment trial.
“If I was Warren, Klobuchar or Sanders I would really be relying on notable friends to step up and fill that void,” he said.
Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist who worked on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, told McClatchy News it is unclear how the trial will affect the senators without having a better sense of the upcoming trial schedule.
“Obviously it’s not ideal for them, but they signed up to be senators,” he said. “This is part of the job.”
Rosenberg does anticipate at least one winner of the impeachment trial: former Vice President Joe Biden.
“We’re about to have an impeachment largely over his [Trump’s] efforts to knock Biden out of the race,” he said. “The entire trial will be implicitly and explicitly about the fear Trump had of Joe Biden.”