Senate Republican predicts impeachment trial ends by State of the Union
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of GOP leadership, said on Tuesday that he expects President Trump’s impeachment trial will be over by a State of the Union speech scheduled for early February.
Blunt, the No. 4 Senate Republican, told KSSZ, a Missouri radio station, that he expected the Senate trial would be “pretty predictable” and happen “quickly.”
“My guess is we’ll be done with this by the time the president comes,” Blunt said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has formally invited Trump to deliver the State of the Union on Feb. 4, a day after the Iowa caucus.
“I think we should have had enough time for both the House to fairly present its view of why the president should be impeached and for the president … to have a chance for his lawyers to explain why he shouldn’t be, and then we’ll have that vote and move on,” Blunt added on Tuesday.
The timeline outlined by Blunt would mean a Senate trial would last less than four weeks. The House doesn’t return to Washington until Jan. 7, making that the first day Pelosi could transmit the two articles of impeachment to the Senate and appoint the House managers.
Under the Senate’s impeachment rules, the trial proceedings would start the next day absent an agreement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the schedule.
Pelosi has not said when she will transmit the articles to the Senate, saying she wants details on what the proceeding will look like. And McConnell and Schumer left Washington for the holidays at an “impasse” in the negotiations over the rules of a Senate impeachment trial.
McConnell has not given a specific time frame for a Senate trial. Spokesmen for the GOP leader didn’t immediately respond to a question about Blunt’s comments on Tuesday.
But McConnell has indicated that he wants a shorter trial. He told Fox News Radio earlier this month that he does not believe Trump’s team or House impeachment managers need to call witnesses.
“I think we’ve heard enough. After we’ve heard the arguments, we ought to vote and move on,” McConnell said.
Republicans are increasingly lining up behind a quick trial with few, if any, witnesses. Democrats want to call four witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
But some Republicans have embraced Schumer’s time frame for the first phase of a trial, which would include both sides presenting their arguments and senators asking questions.
Schumer, in a letter to McConnell, outlined a roughly two-week time frame for the first phase that would give both sides 24 hours to present their opening arguments and 16 hours for senators to ask questions.
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