House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to send the article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday.
The move will launch the start of the former president’s trial on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the deadly Capitol riot.
“There will be a trial,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in making the announcement on Friday. “It will be a full trial, it will be a fair trial.”
Mr Trump is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office.
While the transmission of the article launches the trial proceedings, the schedule ahead remains uncertain as the Senate, now in Democratic control, is also working to swiftly confirm President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees and tackle the new administration’s legislative priorities.
Mr Biden says the Senate can do both and Mr Schumer said he is also speaking to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell about the “timing and duration” of the proceedings ahead.
“Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process,” Mr McConnell said after Mr Schumer spoke. On Thursday he proposed delaying the start of Mr Trump’s trial to February to give the former president time to prepare and review his case. Mr Trump is still assembling his legal team.
House Democrats who voted to impeach Mr Trump last week for inciting the deadly January 6 Capitol riot say a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on.
The timing and details ahead rests on negotiations between Mr Schumer and Mr McConnell, who are also in talks over a power-sharing agreement for the Senate, which is split 50-50 but in Democratic control because the vice president serves as a tie-breaking vote.
Under an extended timeline as Mr McConnell proposed, the president’s defence team and House prosecutors would have two weeks to file briefs. Arguments would likely begin in mid-February.
A trial delay could appeal to some Democrats, as it would give the Senate more time to confirm Mr Biden’s Cabinet nominees and debate a new round of coronavirus relief.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a key ally of the president, told CNN that Democrats would consider a delay “if we are making progress on confirming the very talented, seasoned and diverse” team Mr Biden has nominated.
Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump does not deserve a “get-out-of-jail card” just because he has left office and Mr Biden and others are calling for national unity.
Facing his second impeachment trial in two years, Mr Trump began to assemble his defence team by hiring attorney Butch Bowers to represent him, according to an adviser. Mr Bowers previously served as counsel to former South Carolina governors Nikki Haley and Mark Sanford.
Shortly before the January 6 insurrection, Mr Trump told thousands of his supporters at a rally near the White House to “fight like hell” against the election results that Congress was certifying.
A mob marched down to the Capitol and rushed in, interrupting the count. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the mayhem, and the House impeached Mr Trump a week later, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in support.
Ms Pelosi said it would be “harmful to unity” to forget that “people died here on January 6, the attempt to undermine our election, to undermine our democracy, to dishonour our Constitution”.