McConnell, Schumer to start impeachment trial negotiations this week

McConnell, Schumer to start impeachment trial negotiations this week
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-Ky.) is planning to begin negotiations this week with Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.), according to GOP senators.

A senior GOP senator told The Hill on Tuesday that McConnell said during a closed-door Senate Republican caucus lunch that he would begin talking with the Democratic leader this week. 

"He said it at our lunch, and he said he thought he would have a starting date established by the time we leave" for the holiday recess, the senator said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The Senate is expected to leave until January by Friday, though they could leave as soon as Thursday if they can get a deal to speed up consideration of 13 judicial nominees and two bills that will fund the government through the end of September. 

McConnell, according to multiple GOP senators, told members during the lunch, which was also attended by Vice President Pence, that he thought he could at least get a deal with Schumer on the start date of the impeachment trial by Friday. 

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, added that senators needed at least a start date before leaving. 

"The intention is, I think, to sit down and the most constructive way to do this is to try and get the two leaders to agree and at least put a schedule in place," Thune said. 

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), asked about the start date of a trial, said that McConnell would be talking to Schumer and "I think we'll know something before we leave." 

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), asked about the start date of trial, noted that it would be up to McConnell and Schumer to negotiate. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"We were told today that we'll know that by Friday," Perdue told The Hill after he left the caucus lunch. 

McConnell and Schumer have both said they want to try to reach a bipartisan deal on the Senate trial procedure, though they've sidestepped saying when those talks will start. 

McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference on Tuesday that they would start "soon." A spokesman for Schumer said the GOP leader's office had not yet reached out to set up an initial meeting.  

The two appear to be at loggerheads over the specifics of a trial, including whether or not to call witnesses. 

McConnell took to the Senate floor earlier Tuesday to shoot down the Democratic leader's initial offer, which asked that the Senate call at least four witnesses including acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Will Pence primary Trump — and win? Bolton: Trump lacked enough 'advance thinking' for a coup MORE.  

Schumer also wants the Senate to pass one resolution at the outset of the trial that would include both a deal on the procedure and a deal on specific witnesses.  

During Clinton's impeachment trial, senators voted 100-0 on a resolution laying out the process for a trial, but a vote on a subsequent resolution calling for specific witnesses broke down along party lines.

McConnell, on Tuesday, said he believed the Clinton framework was a "good idea."

"The basic procedural framework of the Clinton impeachment trial served the Senate and the nation well, in my view," McConnell said. "I still believe the Senate should try to follow the 1999 model."

Schumer, in his offer, also outlined potential timeframes for both the House impeachment managers and Trump's team to be able to make their case. 

The senior GOP senator said he thought McConnell and Schumer could get a "pretty quick agreement" on how long each side should get to present their case. 

-- Updated at 4:12 p.m.