White House predicts Senate trial will last less than two weeks

White House predicts Senate trial will last less than two weeks
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The White House believes President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE’s impeachment trial in the Senate will not last more than two weeks, arguing the House’s case is so weak that senators will not need to hear from witnesses. 

“I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely we’d be going beyond two weeks,” a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday. “We think this case is overwhelming for the president and the Senate isn’t going to have a need to take that amount of time on this.”

The White House expects there to be a motion in the Senate to dismiss the charges against Trump, insisting that Democrats have produced a flimsy case to impeach the president because the articles themselves do not include an allegation of a crime and would not hold up in a court of law. 

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“We think that these articles fail on their face,” the senior official said. “The facts overwhelmingly show that the president did nothing wrong.” 

The White House would not rule out calling its own witnesses in the event senators vote to hear from current or former administration officials, but suggested such a scenario was unlikely. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Trump resists pressure for nationwide stay-at-home order | Trump open to speaking to Biden about virus response | Fauci gets security detail | Outbreak creates emergency in nursing homes McConnell: Pelosi trying to 'jam' Senate on fourth coronavirus relief bill On The Money: House Dems push huge jobs project in wake of coronavirus | Trump leans on businesses in virus response | Lawmakers press IRS to get relief checks to seniors MORE (R-Ky.) has said he hopes to avoid a messy trial with numerous witnesses, several moderate Republicans have indicated they are open to hearing new testimony following opening statements. 

An impeachment trial is expected to kick off in the upper chamber sometime early next week. Should the case last more than two weeks, it would run into Trump’s scheduled State of the Union speech on Feb. 4.

The official declined to detail who specifically will be on the president’s defense team or what their strategy will be, though White House counsel Pat Cipollone and attorney Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowMeadows joins White House in crisis mode What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Senate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment MORE will play prominent roles. Trump’s team is unlikely to present a days-long defense of his conduct as was the case during former President Clinton’s trial, however.

Trump has mulled adding House lawmakers to his defense team though there hasn’t been an announcement one way or another, and Senate Republicans have cautioned the president against such a move. The official said Wednesday an announcement would be made soon but didn’t offer a timeline. 

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“What we will present is a very strong case for the president, and the reason it doesn’t take a long time is ... the facts are simple and the facts are on the president’s side,” the official said. 

The House voted Wednesday to transmit the articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress to the Senate, after moving in December to impeach Trump in a vote that fell mostly along party lines.

The vote Wednesday came after House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSchumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar Overnight Health Care: Trump resists pressure for nationwide stay-at-home order | Trump open to speaking to Biden about virus response | Fauci gets security detail | Outbreak creates emergency in nursing homes McConnell: Pelosi trying to 'jam' Senate on fourth coronavirus relief bill MORE (D-Calif.) delayed sending the articles to the upper chamber, seeking leverage as Democrats pressed the GOP-controlled Senate to call witnesses such as former national security adviser John BoltonJohn Bolton Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office US retaliates with missile strikes in Iraq MORE

Pelosi earlier Wednesday also named the seven lawmakers who will serve as impeachment managers to present the House’s case during the trial. The group will be led by Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats introduce bill to set up commission to review coronavirus response Schiff drafting legislation to set up 9/11-style commission to review coronavirus response Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner MORE (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee's chairman, who presided over several weeks of impeachment hearings in October and November.

Trump hadn’t weighed in extensively on impeachment as of early Wednesday afternoon, only tweeting following Pelosi’s press conference that Democrats were engaged in a “con job.”

White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamUK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for coronavirus White House press secretary to return to work after negative virus test Trump signs executive order to prevent price gouging, hoarding of medical supplies MORE also accused Pelosi of focusing on “politics instead of the American people” and lying when she described the impeachment process as urgent, adding that Trump expected to be “fully exonerated” by the Senate.

"President Trump has done nothing wrong. He looks forward to having the due process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated,” Grisham said.