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Trump’s Orthodox lawyer pulls request to delay impeachment trial over Shabbat

In last-minute about-face, David Schoen announces procedures can continue on Jewish day of rest without him; unclear if move will change timeframe of case

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)

The impeachment trial for former US president Donald Trump won’t take a break over Shabbat, after the Orthodox attorney leading Trump’s defense on Tuesday withdrew his request for accommodations over his religious observance, CNN reported.

David Schoen had originally requested that the trial be paused during the Jewish day of rest, which begins this coming Friday in Washington, DC, at 5:24 p.m. and lasts for about 25 hours.

“Based on adjustments that have been made on the President’s defense team, I am writing today to withdraw my request so that the proceedings can go forward as originally contemplated before I made my request,” Schoen wrote in a letter to Senators Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer (who is also Jewish), and Mitch McConnell.

Schoen added that he personally will not participate during Shabbat, and his role “will be fully covered to the satisfaction of the defense team,” the letter released by CNN concluded.

A spokesperson for Schumer had initially told The New York Times the request would be accommodated.

It remains unclear if the withdrawal will affect the trial schedule, set to begin Tuesday in the Senate.

In this image from video, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat-Vermont, the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the impeachment of former US President Donald Trump, swears in members of the Senate for the trial at the US Capitol in Washington, January 26, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)

Trump is fighting an incitement charge in connection with the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. The former president denies inciting his supporters, who had gathered to protest the election results, to storm the Capitol building, in a riot that resulted in five deaths.

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.

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

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania make their way to board Marine One before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021 (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

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.

The impeachment trial is Trump’s second. His first took place over multiple weeks in 2020, ending with his acquittal on February 5.

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