WASHINGTON - As the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump moves forward to the House Judiciary Committee, a potential Senate trial could limit the amount of time to campaign for some 2020 Democratic candidates who are also senators.
The impeachment inquiry began over allegations that the president tried to leverage military assistance to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“Right now, I think the Democrats are riding a bit of a crest,” said Hal Dash, a Democratic political analyst. “But we have more to see on the impeachment process as it goes from the House to the Senate.”
If the Senate does hold impeachment hearings, it could impact the campaign schedule for a number of Democratic candidates in the lead up to the first caucus in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Democratic senators being forced to sit in the U.S. Senate chamber for weeks,” said Matt Klink, a GOP strategist. “During January, while the president is going through an impeachment trial. They will not be out campaigning. So that gives candidates like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and others, a significant advantage.”
Other candidates who are not tied currently tied to Washington include businessman Andrew Yang, former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, author Marianne Williamson and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his presidential run Sunday.
The Democratic presidential hopefuls would be able to spend unlimited time on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire.
However, some senators on the campaign trail are former prosecutors, so many commentators believe that an impeachment trial in the Senate could be a moment for them to shine.
“I cannot think of anything more important right now that we have to do, and whether we are supposed to be campaigning or not, none of that matters,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is a 2020 Democratic candidate, told Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show.”
“If the impeachment inquiry gets to the United States Senate, I will be there,” California Sen. Kamala Harris said in an appearance on MSNBC. “Against my political interests, to be in Iowa every day.”
The House Intelligence Committee is wrapping up the investigative phase of the probe and preparing its report for the next. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has said the report could be released soon after the House returns from its Thanksgiving break.
The initial Judiciary hearing on Dec. 4, the day after lawmakers return, will feature legal experts who will examine questions of constitutional grounds as the panel decides whether to write articles of impeachment against Trump — and if so what those articles will be. Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that his panel’s hearing will “explore the framework put in place to respond to serious allegations of impeachable misconduct.”
Democrats are aiming for a possible final House vote on actually charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors” by Christmas, which would set the stage for a likely Senate trial in January.
The Associated Press and Stringr contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.