McConnell tells GOP senators to expect impeachment trial next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes bill to give flexibility for small business coronavirus aid program On The Money: GOP turning against new round of ,200 rebate checks | Millions of Americans frustrated by delayed unemployment checks | Senate votes to give coronavirus relief program more flexibility Rand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill MORE (R-Ky.) told Republicans during a closed-door lunch on Thursday to expect President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE’s impeachment trial to start next week. 

Three GOP senators said the Republican leader warned lawmakers during the caucus meeting that they should not expect to be able to go home next weekend, indicating that the long-delayed trial will be underway. 

Proceedings have been held up while Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi scoffs at comparison between Trump and Churchill: 'I think they're hallucinating' Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Pelosi joins protests against George Floyd's death outside Capitol MORE (D-Calif.) has refused to send over the House-passed articles of impeachment, but she told reporters earlier Thursday that she would “soon” do so.

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"We thought, we as the body, that the Speaker will ... shortly send that over, so [he] said next weekend don't go anywhere," said Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyHouse pushes back schedule to pass spending bills Top Republican says Trump greenlit budget fix for VA health care GOP senators not tested for coronavirus before lunch with Trump MORE (R-Ala.), characterizing McConnell's message as a heads-up that the Senate would be in session. 

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John Cramer7 GOP senators slam State Dept for 'slow and inefficient policy' on passports Trump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators Trump cites 'Obamagate' in urging GOP to get 'tough' on Democrats MORE (R-N.D.) added that McConnell told senators that the two articles would be sent over "soon," expecting them in the "next day or two." 

"There's no reason for us to stay this weekend, but don't expect to be home next weekend was the basic message," Cramer added after the closed-door caucus lunch. 

Once Pelosi sends the articles over, the trial would start the next day at 1 p.m. The Senate would then be in session for six days a week, excluding Sunday, until they wrap what is expected to be a weeks-long process. The six-day work week will be a shift for senators, who normally come into town on Monday night and leave by Thursday afternoon. 

"I'm not holding them indefinitely," Pelosi had said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "I'll send them over when I'm ready, and that will probably be soon."

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Senators have largely been left in the dark about when to expect Pelosi to send over the two articles, which passed the chamber largely along party lines last month. 

Asked about McConnell's comments, a spokesman said the GOP leader's guidance was not based on conversations with Pelosi. 

McConnell's remarks to senators come after Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on police brutality next week McCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony MORE (R-S.C.) raised eyebrows by telling Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityCable news audience numbers jump amid coronavirus, protests Hannity scolds Ozarks partygoers: 'Could be a disaster' for vulnerable Americans Trump lashes out at Fox News after poll shows him trailing Biden MORE, without explanation, that he expects the trial to start next week. 

"Hats off to Mitch McConnell for playing this very well. We'll take the trial up next week," Graham said on Wednesday night.

Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntCalls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Washington prepares for a summer without interns GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill MORE (Mo.) and John CornynJohn CornynCornyn presses DOJ to release results of investigation into Larry Nassar probe Minority caucuses call for quick action on police reform 7 GOP senators slam State Dept for 'slow and inefficient policy' on passports MORE (Texas), members of GOP leadership, both confirmed McConnell's comments during the closed-door caucus but cautioned that they had also expected the standoff between Pelosi and McConnell to already be over. 

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"It's an assumption of what we believe will happen," Blunt said. "I believe we're believing, as we believed last weekend, that these documents are about to come over." 

The timing of the trial, just weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses, could pose a challenge for the five senators seeking the Democratic presidential nomination: Michael BennetMichael Farrand Bennet21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply MORE (D-Colo.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill Minority caucuses call for quick action on police reform It's time to shut down industrial animal farming MORE (D-N.Y.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Conspiracy theories run rampant online amid Floyd protests | First lawsuit filed against Trump social media order | Snapchat to no longer promote Trump's account Derek Chauvin charge upgraded to second-degree murder; other officers charged Democratic lawmakers push leadership to ensure college students have internet access MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins DC primary Biden wins Montana primary Biden wins New Mexico primary MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIt's time to shut down industrial animal farming The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Biden wins DC primary MORE (D-Mass.). 

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE said this week that the party could reschedule the year's first primary debate — currently set for Tuesday — if it conflicts with trial proceedings.

Speculation about when the articles will come over follows McConnell's announcement earlier this week that he has the 51 votes to set up the Senate impeachment rules without Democratic support and punt a decision on documents and witnesses until mid-trial. 

Pelosi reiterated on Thursday that she wants more details on the parameters of an impeachment trial from McConnell.

"We need to see the arena in which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?" Pelosi said.