The U.S. House is barreling along with its impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump -- and, in one sense, that could spell trouble for presidential candidate Michael Bennet of Colorado.
Bennet, you see, also happens to be a U.S. senator. And if the Democratic-led House votes to impeach Trump, as many pundits see as probable, the Senate under the Constitution would then hold a trial to decide whether to remove Trump from office -- a trial that could last several weeks.
And if that happens before or during the caucus and primary season in early 2020, Bennet and his fellow senators -- including five other presidential candidates -- could be pinned down in Washington while their Democratic competitors for the nomination are out campaigning.
Couldn't presidential-candidate senators like Bennet simply skip the trial and stay on the trail? Not likely, says Paul McLeod of BuzzFeed News, who adds that such a trial could begin as soon as late November.
"An impeachment trial would consume every senator’s schedule," McLeod reports. "Under the Senate’s current rules, all senators must be in session Monday through Saturday [during the trial], starting at around noon each day. The trial may last several weeks — Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial lasted five — thus taking several candidates off the campaign trail the month before the primaries start."
That means Bennet -- along with Sens. Cory Booker, Michael Bennet, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren -- would be hearing evidence at the Capitol six days a week instead of talking to voters, unlike, say, Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg.
Conceivably the candidates could fly out to early-caucus-and-primary states in the evenings and Sundays and then return to Washington for the next day's session, but that could be a rugged scheduling issue.
Bennet in particular needs all the trail time he can get, given that he remains lodged near the back of the Democratic pack for the nomination and was excluded from recent debates due to poor polling and fundraising numbers.
The Coloradan told BuzzFeed News that "he didn’t know whether he’d still be able to campaign during the demands of a trial or if he’d have to put it on hold," McLeod reports.
“We’ll have to see. But we’ve got an obligation here and we’ve got to make sure we do it properly,” Bennet told the news outlet.
On the issue of impeachment itself, Bennet issued this statement in late September after the House opened its impeachment investigations:
“I support the decision to open an impeachment inquiry. As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I will continue to exercise my role in conducting oversight and uncovering the facts."