The US Democrats could delay an impeachment trial of Donald Trump until after Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, a top official said, freeing up the incoming president to pursue his early agenda. 

James Clyburn, House Majority Whip, said that the House would take up articles of impeachment against Mr Trump on Monday, but that they would likely not send them to the Senate for several months.

The third-ranking  House Democrat said this would allow senators to concentrate on approving Biden administration appointments and tackle legislative priorities such as a second coronavirus relief package.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Mr Clyburn told CNN, adding that Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker who controls the timetable of proceedings, was in agreement.

Momentum for impeaching Mr Trump a historic second time was growing over the weekend among rank-and-file Democrats and some Republicans.

Representative Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, announced the article of impeachment drafted by him and other House Democrats had drawn more than 190 co-sponsors.

Senator Patrick Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, spoke out, saying that Mr Trump had “committed impeachable offences,” a sign of growing anger over the outgoing president’s role in the January 6 assault on the US Capitol building.

More senior Republicans, however, have urged the Democratic-led House not to initiate proceedings, calling them "unnecessary and inflammatory" and risked creating further divide.

The article of impeachment is due to be introduced to the House on Monday and is likely to be voted on there as early as Wednesday morning.

With a vote likely to pass the next step is for a Senate trial. At least 17 Republicans would have to join the Democrats to win a conviction, which would prevent Mr Trump from running again for office.

However, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent attorney who has previously represented the president, questioned whether such a move was legally permissible.

He said that even if Mr Trump is impeached, the Senate will not be able to hear a trial because he would be a private citizen by the time that were to happen.

Another idea being considered is to have a separate vote that would prevent Mr Trump from ever holding office again. That could potentially only need a simple majority vote of 51 senators, unlike impeachment, in which two-thirds of the 100-member Senate must support a conviction.

Pat Toomey, Republican senator for Pennsylvania, indicated that he might support such a vote: "I think the president has disqualified himself from ever certainly serving in office again," he said. "I don’t think he is electable in any way."

An Ipsos poll for Reuters showed that 57 per cent of Americans want Mr Trump removed immediately, including nine out of ten Democrats polled, but just two in ten Republicans.