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 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 from 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.) 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 ThuneSenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules Senate to vote on Trump's Canada, Mexico trade deal Thursday Senate braces for Trump impeachment trial 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 BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial 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 MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution 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 PaulCheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate 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 BidenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' MORE’s son, to testify at the trial.