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Top Dems: Trump impeachment still a priority as country deals with multiple crises

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds a

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds a news conference in Manhattan on Sunday. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Top Democrats said Sunday that the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump remains a priority even as the country confronts crises on several fronts.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Sunday that Congress must quickly move on President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief bill, the confirmation of Biden's cabinet nominees and Trump’s impeachment trial.

"The Senate must advance all three in the next few weeks," Schumer said at a news conference in Manhattan. "The stakes are too high to delay any of them."

Some senators, including Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), proposed confirming nominees in the morning and passing legislation at night to keep up with the nation's needs. The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 400,000 Americans and left millions more sick, unemployed and hungry, while the nation is also contending with issues of racial injustice, climate change and sharp divisions.

Schumer said members of the House of Representatives on Monday night will deliver the lone article of impeachment against Trump, which accuses the former president of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, in which five people died. Schumer said the trial will begin the week of Feb. 8.

Impeachment manager Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) said her team will present a "compelling case because the facts and the law reveal what this president did."

"Some people would like us to turn the page [and say], 'Oh, let's move on,'" Dean said on CNN's State of the Union. "I believe that this impeachment trial — I hope conviction, ultimate disqualification [from future office] — are the very first powerful steps toward unity and our country moving forward."

But Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida pointed to the competing needs of the nation in his argument that impeachment is "counterproductive." He said he will vote to end the trial "the first chance I get," even as he said, "I think the president bears responsibility for some of what happened."

"We have some really important things to work on. You want to really kind of bring the country together and remember once again how we can get things done." Rubio told Fox News on Sunday.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the sole Republican Senator to vote to convict Trump during his first impeachment, said he was open to convicting Trump for inciting the attack — which he called an impeachable offense — based on the evidence and Trump's defense.

"It continues a pattern that the president had of trying to corrupt the election by his communication with Ukraine, by trying to corrupt the election with regards to the lie that he's been spreading over the last several months, and then, if you will, firing up a crowd and encouraging them to march on the Capitol at the time that the Congress was carrying out its constitutional responsibility to certify the election," Romney said on CNN. "These allegations are very serious."

But Romney said he does not believe the Senate needs to censure Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who supported Trump's efforts to overturn the election, because "history will provide a measure of judgment with regards to those that continue to spread the lie that the president [began]."

Romney also disputed Trump's assertions that the election was "stolen," citing the Department of Justice and intelligence agencies finding of no evidence of widespread voter fraud, that every state certified their elections and that every Trump campaign lawsuit on the matter failed to validate the claim.

"So, basically, [Trump] either made this up out of midair, or perhaps someone in their basement tweeted something out, and he picked it up from there," Romney said, "And that's why 60 courts who looked at it simply laughed him out of court."

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said the "election was fair" but he wants a bipartisan investigation to make everyone confident in the country's elections. But he said he thought impeachment is a "moot point" with Trump out of office and the many tasks Congress must now complete.

"For right now, I think there are other things that we'd rather be working on instead," Rounds said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

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