McConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans give Barr vote of confidence Democrats block two Senate abortion bills VA could lead way for nation on lower drug pricing MORE (R-Ky.) has officially locked in the schedule for the first few days of the Senate impeachment trial against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE after the House formally notified the chamber that it had appointed managers.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, set up an agreement for the House managers to return to the Senate on Thursday at noon to formally present the articles of impeachment. The two articles are also expected to be read from the floor on Thursday.

Chief Justice John Roberts, under the deal that passed the Senate by unanimous consent, will arrive at 2 p.m. on Thursday, at which point he will be sworn in to preside over the trial. Roberts will then swear in all 100 senators.

ADVERTISEMENT

"For the information of all senators, a few minutes ago, the Senate was notified that the House of Representatives is finally ready to proceed with their articles of impeachment. So by unanimous consent, we have just laid some of the groundwork that will structure the next several days," McConnell said the Senate floor.

House staff and impeachment managers were closely followed as they walked across the Capitol on Wednesday evening to kick start the Senate trial, delivering a message announcing that the House had appointed managers to present the impeachment articles. House Democrats say they also handed over the articles. 

The seven managers walked into the Senate chamber, with Reps. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOcasio-Cortez: Trump would 'never' say to her face some of the shots he takes at her on Twitter John Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job Trump says he wants 'no help from any country' in 2020 election MORE (D-Calif.) and Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Trump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify MORE (D-N.Y.) leading the group. They stood on the sidelines of the chamber as McConnell established the schedule.

Roughly two dozen Senate Democrats were also in their seats as they awaited the House managers and as McConnell set the schedule. They were spotted chatting among themselves as they awaited their House colleagues, something they will not be able to do during the trial because senators have to sit silently.

The bipartisan nature of setting the Senate's initial schedule is a break with the overly partisan nature of the looming impeachment trial.

ADVERTISEMENT

The trial is expected to start "in earnest" on Tuesday. Republicans will pass a rules resolution next week along party lines to punt a decision on witnesses until midtrial. Democrats wanted an agreement on specific witnesses at the outset.

"This is a difficult time for our country, but this is precisely the kind of time for which the Framers created the Senate," McConnell said after he set the schedule.

The GOP leader spoke shortly after the House clerk notified the upper chamber of the House's appointment of the impeachment trial managers on the Senate floor.

"I'm confident this body can rise above short-termism and factional fever and serve the long-term best interests of our nation. We can do this, and we must," McConnell said.