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Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats are in a dilemma of their own making, and now they want incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to wrap up President Trump's impeachment trial as fast as possible, two sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: The party wanted to hold the president accountable for helping incite last week's Capitol attack but the actual mechanism for doing so — a Senate trial — is a balky tool that will inhibit President-elect Joe Biden from launching his effort to heal the country and its economy.

What we’re hearing: The general view among Senate Democrats and Biden officials is that it’s in both parties’ interest not to have a drawn-out trial. They hope Republicans agree.

  • Democrats, who will soon control the White House, Senate and House, want to get back to legislating and focus on Biden's plans — like the massive COVID-19 rescue package he introduced Thursday night.
  • Republicans, they bet, don’t want to spend weeks litigating the attack, or draw more attention to their attempts to overturn the election results that helped fuel the riot.

But, but, but: It’s hard to streamline an archaic impeachment trial.

  • Even if both sides miraculously agree to doing away with trial documents and witnesses — since some argue every member of Congress was a witness to the Capitol siege — each side's outliers can consume hours for opening arguments, questions, debate and closing arguments.

The bottom line: Many Senate Democrats don’t want to waste any more precious time on Trump, especially when an impeachment trial — his second — is unlikely to yield a conviction if incoming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn't want that result.

Go deeper

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.

Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say. 

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.