Trump’s Orthodox impeachment lawyer wins pause if trial runs into Shabbat

Chuck Schumer’s spokesman says David Schoen’s request will be accommodated, according to New York Times, though it puts Senate leaders in a bind on timeframe

Attorney David Schoen speaks to the media, January 6, 2016. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Attorney David Schoen speaks to the media, January 6, 2016. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Former US president Donald Trump’s lawyer in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, who is an Orthodox Jew, has asked for the proceedings to be paused from Friday evening due to Shabbat, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

“I apologize for the inconvenience my request that impeachment proceedings not be conducted during the Jewish Sabbath undoubtedly will cause other people involved in the proceedings,” David Schoen wrote in a letter. “The practices and prohibitions are mandatory for me, however; so, respectfully, I have no choice but to make this request.”

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is also Jewish, said accommodations would be made.

“We respect their request and of course will accommodate it,” the spokesperson said. “Conversations with the relevant parties about the structure of the trial continue.”

On his final day in office, then US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, January 20, 2021. (Alex Brandon/AP)

According to the New York Times, the request has complicated the timeframe for the proceedings.

“It is unclear how Senate leaders will honor Mr. Schoen’s request,” the report noted. “If they moved to fast-track the trial to ensure it was concluded by sundown Friday, it would make for by far the speediest presidential impeachment trial in history. If they suspended it as Mr. Schoen has asked, the proceeding could bleed into a federal holiday on Monday and what was supposed to be a holiday week for the Senate, when its members were supposed to get a break to go home to their states. If leaders opted instead to delay it further, that would punt planned action on confirming Mr. Biden’s nominees and advancing his pandemic aid bill.”

The impeachment trial starts February 9. Trump, the first president to be impeached twice, is charged with inciting an insurrection on January 6, when a mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol to interrupt the electoral vote count. Five people died. Before the riot, Trump had told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat.

Convicting Trump would require the vote of more than two-thirds of the senators, meaning 17 Republicans would need to break ranks and join all 50 Democrats, an unlikely stretch at this point.

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters, including Doug Jensen, center, confront US Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington. Some followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are now turning to online support groups and even therapy to help them move on, now that it’s clear Donald Trump’s presidency is over. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The parameters of the trial have yet to be set, and they will need the imprimatur of a Senate majority.

While Democrats have not signaled what evidence they will use, or who they might call as witnesses, such as US Capitol Police officers, their invitation to have Trump testify was shot down by the ex-president’s team.

Democrats are reportedly not entertaining the idea of issuing a subpoena to compel his testimony.

Republicans, whose ranks are divided about the party’s future direction, do not want to dwell on the divisive episode before them.

Many Democrats too are eager to move on, so Congress can pass Biden’s legislative priorities like a massive coronavirus relief package.

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