IT’S ON: McConnell Reveals When Senate Impeachment Trial Will Begin
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Thursday that the impeachment trial in the upper chamber will begin in just a few days.
While speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, McConnell said he told Republicans during a closed-door lunch to expect President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to start next week.
Three GOP senators said the Republican leader warned lawmakers during the caucus meeting that they should not expect to be able to go home next weekend, indicating that the long-delayed trial will be underway.
Proceedings have been held up because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to send over the House-passed articles of impeachment, but Republicans are about to end things for good.
“We thought, we as the body, that the Speaker will … shortly send that over, so [he] said next weekend don’t go anywhere,” said Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, characterizing McConnell’s message as a heads-up that the Senate would be in session.
GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer added that McConnell told senators that the two articles would be sent over “soon,” expecting them in the “next day or two.”
“There’s no reason for us to stay this weekend, but don’t expect to be home next weekend was the basic message,” Cramer added after the closed-door caucus lunch.
The Hill reports:
Once Pelosi sends the articles over, the trial would start the next day at 1 p.m. The Senate would then be in session for six days a week, excluding Sunday, until they wrap what is expected to be a weeks-long process.
The six-day work week will be a shift for senators, who normally come into town on Monday night and leave by Thursday afternoon.
Senators have largely been left in the dark about when to expect Pelosi to send over the two articles, which passed the chamber largely along party lines last month.
McConnell’s remarks to senators come after Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that he expects the trial to start next week.
“Hats off to Mitch McConnell for playing this very well. We’ll take the trial up next week,” Graham said on Wednesday night.
During an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Graham accused Pelosi of playing political games and trying to exert control over the Senate trial by keeping it from starting.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated last week the chamber’s rules prevented him from doing anything until Pelosi does her part, but Graham proposed a solution that could remove what McConnell has called an “impasse” in the process.
“What I would do, if she continues to refuse to send the articles as required by the Constitution, I would work with Senator McConnell to change the rules of the Senate so we could start the trial without her, if necessary,” Graham proposed.
When asked how long he would wait before taking this step, Graham replied, “Days, not weeks.”
Graham justified this by claiming Pelosi was engaging in a “political stunt” by holding off on sending the impeachment articles to the Senate, weeks after they were approved by a House vote.
He said McConnell would not let her dictate how events unfold.
The South Carolina lawmaker then detailed how he thinks the trial to go, allowing both sides to present arguments before determining whether witnesses were needed.
“We’ll use the Clinton model, where you take the record established in the House, let the House managers appointed by Pelosi make the argument, let the president make his argument why the two articles are flawed, and then we’ll decide whether we want witnesses. But this should be done in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Graham expressed hope the Senate could conclude the impeachment trial before the end of January, but reiterated that this may require the Senate to push Pelosi out of the equation.
“If we don’t get the articles this week, then we need to take matters in our own hands and change the rules, deem them to be delivered to the Senate so we can start the trial, invite the House over to participate if they would like,” he said. “If they don’t come, dismiss the case and get on with governing the country.”
Beyond that, it’s about time the Republicans stood up to this phony impasse.