McConnell tells GOP senators to expect impeachment trial next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump admin releases trove of documents on Ukrainian military aid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) told Republicans during a closed-door lunch on Thursday to expect President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Why Senate Republicans should eagerly call witnesses to testify Trump health chief: 'Not a need' for ObamaCare replacement plan right now 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 ShelbySenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight GOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' MORE (R-Ala.), characterizing McConnell's message as a heads-up that the Senate would be in session. 

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Senate braces for bitter fight over impeachment rules Senate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial 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 GrahamSenator-jurors who may not be impartial? Remove them for cause Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa What to watch for as Senate organizes impeachment on day one MORE (R-S.C.) raised eyebrows by telling Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityHypocrisy is the currency of the realm for GOP in the age of Trump GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Trump wants To 'deescalate,' but will his supporters let him? 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 BluntSenate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial McConnell keeps press in check as impeachment trial starts What to watch for as Senate organizes impeachment on day one MORE (Mo.) and John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Cornyn disputes GAO report on withholding of Ukraine aid: It's 'certainly not a crime' 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 BennetWarren ad claims Trump fears her most Sanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (D-Colo.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPatrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Sanders holds four-point lead on Biden in new California poll MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders 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.