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

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 BluntThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Schumer back down on his deadline? GOP fumes over Schumer hardball strategy Cybersecurity bills gain new urgency after rash of attacks 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.”

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration builds as infrastructure talks drag On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal 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.