Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that if the House sends over the impeachment articles against President Trump as planned the trial in the Senate could begin by next Tuesday.
The House is expected to vote Wednesday on releasing the two articles and to name the lawmakers who will serve as impeachment managers to prosecute the case in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier in the day.
“We believe if that happens, in all likelihood we’ll go through some preliminary steps this week,” McConnell said, noting Chief Justice John Roberts would have to swear in senators for the trial. “Which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday.”
He was asked about calling witnesses to testify and whether the GOP-majority would vote to immediately dismiss the articles. “There is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss,” the Kentucky Republican said. “Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.”
McConnell also said the Senate would deal with calling witnesses as the trial proceeds. He said the 53-member Republican conference agreed to an initial resolution on how to go forward.
It would begin with arguments from the prosecution and defense, a written question period, then the “more contentious issue of witnesses would be addressed by the Senate.” That is a similar format to the one followed in the case of President Clinton in 1999.
McConnell also said it would be likely that both Democrats and Republicans would want to have specific witnesses to testify.
“It’s certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses that they’d want to hear from. So when you get to that issue, I can’t imagine that only the witnesses that our Democratic colleagues would want to call, would be called,” he said.
Pelosi also said that the House also would take up a resolution to appoint impeachment managers who would prosecute the House’s case against the president.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, are likely choices because they played a prominent role in the House impeachment process.
Pelosi isn’t expected to reveal the managers until Wednesday.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, will head up Trump’s defense.
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