Trump says McConnell can decide on witnesses for Senate trial

Trump says McConnell can decide on witnesses for Senate trial
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE on Tuesday said he would let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Overnight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) decide on whether to allow witnesses in a looming impeachment trial in the upper chamber.

“Yeah, he can decide. And we’ll also have to decide on when we’re taking the vote for the USMCA," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, referring to his signature North American trade deal called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

"To me, I’d let the Senate decide on that," he added.

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The president also indicated that the Senate would have to decide on whether to conduct an impeachment trial vote on the trade agreement first. McConnell has said the Senate would take up USMCA after wrapping up a trial.

Trump's comments about impeachment witnesses indicated that he is prepared to back down on his repeated desires to see former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Liberal group asks Klobuchar to remove herself from VP consideration because of prosecutorial record MORE, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and Biden's son Hunter Biden be called to testify in a Senate trial.

McConnell said earlier Tuesday that the Senate trial should not include witnesses in his clearest comments yet about what he believes the process should look like.

"I think we've heard enough. After we've heard the arguments, we ought to vote and move on," McConnell told Fox News Radio.

The president had previously stated a desire to hear from several witnesses central to the allegations against him, including the Bidens, the whistleblower whose complaint about a phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart sparked the Democrats' impeachment inquiry and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFlynn urged Russian diplomat to have 'reciprocal' response to Obama sanctions, new transcripts show The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (D-Calif.).

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But several Republican senators had been reluctant, instead indicating a preference for a quick trial that would acquit the president without involving witnesses.

Trump's deference to McConnell came after Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFederal judges should be allowed to be Federalist Society members Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in VA hospitals mostly drop hydroxychloroquine as coronavirus treatment MORE (D-N.Y.) made an initial proposal on rules for the trial. As part of the offer, Democrats asked to call four witnesses, including acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHave the courage to recognize Taiwan McConnell says Obama administration 'did leave behind' pandemic plan Trump company lawyer warned Michael Cohen not to write 'tell-all' book: report MORE.

McConnell on Tuesday rejected the proposal and said he would begin negotiations over the trial parameters this week.

— Updated at 3:22 p.m.