Senators expect to be sworn in as impeachment jurors on Thursday

Senators expect to be sworn in as impeachment jurors on Thursday
© Greg Nash

Senators expect to receive the articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday and then to be sworn in as jurors on Thursday ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Pelosi says the House will vote Wednesday to send the two articles across the Capitol to begin the trial, and Senate rules require the trial to begin at 1 p.m. the day after the articles are presented to the chamber. 

GOP leaders also hope to pivot on Thursday to votes on a bipartisan resolution to limit Trump’s ability to escalate hostilities with Iran and to approve the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.

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It would, however, require cooperation from all 100 senators to complete action on the war powers resolution and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) this week.

“All that preliminary stuff could happen this week, we’re going to try to deal with war powers and USMCA this week, so I hope that there’s a window to do that. The sooner we get the articles, the more we can kind of do the formality-type stuff,” Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump's magical thinking won't stop the coronavirus pandemic Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (S.D.) said Tuesday.

“I suspect that what will happen is we’ll do the swearing in and all that [on Thursday] and probably start the trial next week,” Thune added.

The majority whip said whether the trial gets wrapped up by Trump’s State of the Union address, scheduled for Feb. 4, “depends entirely on what the Senate decides to do.”

He said if the Senate holds the trial six days a week, as required by the chamber’s rules, and moves quickly through the opening arguments of the House prosecutors and Trump’s defense team, it could finish the trial by the first week of February.

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But Thune acknowledged the Senate will vote on the question of calling witnesses such as former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonBolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office US retaliates with missile strikes in Iraq The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - A huge night for Joe Biden MORE, which could prolong the proceedings by another week or more.

“I think it’s going to depend, like I said, on 51 senators want to do at any point in time,” he added.

Senate leaders expect to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day and not return to session until Tuesday of next week.

Thune said one possible scenario is for senators to be sworn in as jurors on Thursday “and then pivot to some of the other business with consent,” citing the war powers resolution and the trade deal.

A vote on the organizing resolution, which would set up time for the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team to present their opening arguments, as well as time for senators to ask questions in writing to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, will happen next week, Thune said.

The organizing resolution will not call for additional witnesses such as Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump to nominate Russell Vought as budget chief Warren, Brown press consumer bureau on auto lending oversight Bottom line MORE to testify, but will likely make it in order at a later date for the Senate to debate and vote on the issue.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCampaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Trump, Dems close in on deal MORE (R-Maine) is negotiating with GOP colleagues to include a vote on witnesses in the organizing resolution.

Thune on Tuesday that several Republicans are interested in having witnesses.

"We're having conversations among our members are and we kind of know generally where most people are on some of those key issues," he said. 

"This is sort of a fluid situation where we don't know exactly where people are going to be at the end of the opening arguments but I think people have expressed an interest" in hearing from witnesses, he added. 

One scenario is for the Senate to vote on calling additional witnesses and then to consider separate motions on subpoenaing specific witnesses.

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCoronavirus in Congress: Lawmakers who have tested positive Pennsylvania congressman tests positive for coronavirus South Carolina congressman tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) has said if the Senate votes for witnesses, he will force a vote on calling Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFighting a virus with the wrong tools Trump bucks business on Defense Production Act Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing MORE’s son, to testify at the trial.