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McConnell tells GOP senators to expect impeachment trial next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP blocks voting rights bill Schumer, McConnell spar as GOP prepares to block voting bill Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says MORE (R-Ky.) told Republicans during a closed-door lunch on Thursday to expect President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster 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 quashes reports on Jan. 6 select committee Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed On The Money: Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall | Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure 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 ShelbyOn The Money: Sanders: Democrats considering trillion spending package | Weekly jobless claims rise for first time since April Shelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior MORE (R-Ala.), characterizing McConnell's message as a heads-up that the Senate would be in session. 

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office GOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Trump dismisses climate change, calls on Biden to fire joint chiefs 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 GrahamThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-S.C.) raised eyebrows by telling Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityPoll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Book claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election 9 Republicans not named Trump who could run in 2024 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 BluntThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate to vote on elections bill Congress barrels toward debt cliff Excellence Act will expand mental health and substance use treatment access to millions MORE (Mo.) and John CornynJohn CornynProgressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die 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 BennetDemocrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit Congress needs to fix the broken market for antibiotic development Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' MORE (D-Colo.), Cory BookerCory BookerHarris casts tiebreaking vote to confirm OPM nominee White House says Biden crime address won't undercut police reform bill Racial reparations at the USDA MORE (D-N.Y.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSchumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster Senate GOP blocks voting rights bill The antitrust package is a Trojan horse conservatives must reject MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSchumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure Feehery: 8 reasons why Biden should take the bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate to vote on elections bill Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Progressives fear nightmare scenario over voting rights assault MORE (D-Mass.). 

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas 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.