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GOP senators expect impeachment trial to go past State of the Union

Top Republican senators signaled on Tuesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE's impeachment trial will likely not be over by the time he delivers the annual State of the Union address next month.
 
The prediction comes as House leaders prepare to vote Wednesday to send articles of impeachment to the Senate and senators say they expect opening arguments will start as soon as next Tuesday — two weeks from the Feb. 4 State of the Union speech.

Asked about his previous forecast that the trial will end before the president's address, Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTrump impeachment article being sent to Senate Monday The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda MORE (Mo.), the No. 4 Republican in the Senate, laughed and said, “Obviously I was wrong.”

Pressed if he thought Feb. 4 was no longer a realistic deadline, he added: “I don’t.”

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Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda NRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, didn’t rule out the possibility of the trial concluding by Feb. 4 but warned that it would be a “fairly tight deadline given what we’re facing.”

Senate Republicans say they want a relatively quick impeachment trial, with few or no witnesses for either Trump’s legal team or House impeachment managers

Republicans have said they expect the first phase of the impeachment trial — opening arguments and questions from senators — will last approximately two weeks.

If opening arguments don’t start until Jan. 21, that would put the end of the initial two-week timeline right up against the State of the Union.

After the first phase senators still need to decide whether they will call additional witnesses, and ultimately need to vote to convict or acquit Trump.