Schumer: Trump impeachment trial will not occur over Shabbat

The request was made by Trump's lead defense lawyer David Schoen, and Senator Chuck Schumer, who is also Jewish, agreed to accommodate him.

Sen. Chuck Schumer at a news briefing with new Democratic senators at the US Capitol, Jan. 21, 2021. (photo credit: DREW ANGERER / GETTY IMAGES)
Sen. Chuck Schumer at a news briefing with new Democratic senators at the US Capitol, Jan. 21, 2021.
The US Senate will ensure the impeachment trial of former US president Donald Trump will not stretch into Shabbat should it continue late Friday or into Saturday, The New York Times reported Saturday night.
The request was filed by David Schoen, one of Trump’s lead defense lawyers, who is an observant Jew and observes Shabbat.
In a letter obtained by the Times, Schoen had requested that the trial be suspended if it is not finished before sundown on Friday when Shabbat commences, giving the specific time of 5:24 p.m.
“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, which was sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick J. Leahy. “The practices and prohibitions are mandatory for me, however; so, respectfully, I have no choice but to make this request.”
Following the request, Schumer, who is also Jewish, promised to accommodate Schoen and ensure he will be able to uphold Shabbat observance.
“We respect their request and of course will accommodate it,” Schumer’s spokesman, Justin Goodman, said in a statement Saturday night. “Conversations with the relevant parties about the structure of the trial continue.”
The details of this have yet to be clarified, however, and Schoen told the Times he has yet to hear anything regarding the trial’s schedule or how much time each side would be allotted to present their arguments.
This is not the first time concerns for Shabbat observance have come up at an impeachment trial. In 1999, during the impeachment trial of former president Bill Clinton, then-Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, did not break Shabbat by getting in a car and instead walked four miles to Capitol Hill.
Lieberman had also refrained from campaigning or taking part in political activity over Shabbat, with the exception of attending Senate sessions to vote if needed. But he never traveled by car or rode in elevators.
Other Orthodox Jewish politicians have also had to balance Shabbat observance with their work. Jack Lew, who served as Treasury secretary under Clinton and was White House chief of staff for former president Barack Obama, also kept Shabbat throughout his career.
On the opposite side of the political spectrum, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law/senior adviser, Jared Kushner, are both Orthodox Jews and observe Shabbat, attending synagogue and refusing to use electronics.