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 TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE on Tuesday said he would let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks 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.


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 BidenNAACP seeks to boost Black voter turnout in six states Biden touts Trump saying Harris would be 'fine choice' for VP pick Kamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along 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 SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.).


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 SchumerChuck SchumerLawmakers push Trump to restore full funding for National Guards responding to pandemic Bipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline Lawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks 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 MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Ex-Trump adviser, impeachment witness Fiona Hill gets book deal Hannity's first book in 10 years debuts at No. 1 on Amazon 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.