Trump lawyer asks to pause impeachment trial if it runs into Sabbath

Washington, United States Published: Feb 07, 2021, 09:46 PM(IST)

Donald Trump Photograph:( Reuters )

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One of the lead defense lawyers for Trump has informed Senate leaders that he is an observant Jew who strictly adheres to the commandment against working on the Sabbath

Democrats and Republicans eager to tidily conclude former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial within a week may have a fresh obstacle in front of them: the biblical commandment to keep the Jewish Sabbath.

One of the lead defense lawyers for Trump has informed Senate leaders that he is an observant Jew who strictly adheres to the commandment against working on the Sabbath and thus would be unable to participate in any proceeding that stretched past sundown Friday or met Saturday.

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In a letter obtained by The New York Times, the lawyer, David Schoen, asked that the trial be suspended if it was not finished by the beginning of the Sabbath at 5:24 p.m. Friday and that it not reconvene until Sunday.

“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,” Schoen said in the letter. “The practices and prohibitions are mandatory for me, however; so, respectfully, I have no choice but to make this request.”

The letter was sent to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the majority leader; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader; and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who as president pro tempore is presiding over the trial.

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In a statement Saturday evening, a spokesperson for Schumer said an allowance would be made for Schoen but did not elaborate on how.

While the leaders have yet to agree on a precise timetable for the trial, which is set to begin Tuesday, people familiar with the process had said they were planning for a proceeding that was very likely to stretch into the night Friday and continue Saturday.

Members of both parties are hoping for a speedy trial. Democrats, knowing there are almost certainly not enough votes to convict Trump, want the process over quickly to avoid any further distractions from President Joe Biden’s agenda, particularly his push to quickly pass a stimulus bill and confirm the remainder of his Cabinet. Republicans, who have been badly divided by the push to impeach Trump and do not relish a detailed discussion of his role in provoking the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, have their own reasons for wanting the trial over with quickly.

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