Seven things to know about the Trump trial

The impeachment battle is shifting to the Senate ahead of a weeks-long trial expected to get underway next week.

With the House voting Wednesday to transmit the articles, Chief Justice John Roberts and senators are expected to be sworn in on Thursday. A fierce rules fight and opening arguments will get started on Tuesday.

Though the outcome of the trial is pre-baked, the high-profile proceeding, the third in the chamber’s history, will put a spotlight on a handful of key potential swing votes, as well as the 2020 contenders.

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Here are seven things to know.

 

McConnell to make it as ‘painful’ as possible

Senators are getting a list of strict rules they have to follow once the trial starts.

According to decorum guidelines circulated Wednesday, senators will not be able to bring electronic devices on the floor, speak to others while on the floor or bring reading material unless it’s related to impeachment.

They are expected to be in their seats as they listen to House managers and Trump’s team make their respective cases. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns MORE (R-Mo.) said they will not be allowed to use video evidence, something House Democrats wanted.

The Senate will also be in session six days a week, a stark difference from the chamber’s normal Monday evening to Thursday afternoon schedule.

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Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards Democrats to make pitch Friday for pathway to citizenship in spending bill Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime MORE (R-Texas), who said late last year that he hoped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet Hassan launches first ad of reelection bid focusing on veterans' issues MORE (R-Ky.) would agree to let them work only five days a week, told The Hill that he saw no signs the GOP leader was prepared to back down from the more demanding work schedule.

Another GOP senator, asked about the possibility, told reporters recently that he assumed McConnell “will want it to be as painful as it can possibly be” to keep senators focused on getting through the trial.

 

Witnesses are the wildcard

The biggest unknown: Will 51 senators ultimately decide to call witnesses?

Republican senators are expected to pass a rules resolution that would punt the decision until after opening arguments and questions from senators. The resolution, according to GOP senators who have seen it, will require a vote at the end of the first phase on whether to call witnesses.

Democrats want to hear from acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE, former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' MORE, Mulvaney’s senior adviser Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, the associate director of national security at the Office of Management and Budget.

They’ll need four Republican senators to support their request. Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Overnight On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — GOP senator: It's 'foolish' to buy Treasury bonds Democrats aim for maximum pressure on GOP over debt ceiling MORE (R-Utah) has specifically said he wants to hear from Bolton and anticipates voting for him to testify.

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Trump endorses GOP challenger to Upton over impeachment vote Businesses want Congress to support safe, quality jobs — so do nearly all Americans MORE (R-Alaska) are also viewed as potential swing votes. They said Wednesday it is too soon to determine which witnesses should testify.

“There will be this time in the process where we will have an opportunity to make a determination as to what further information we need, whether it is for Hunter Biden or Ambassador Bolton,” Murkowski said.

Conservatives are threatening to force tough votes on testimony from Biden and the whistleblower who triggered impeachment if their Republican colleagues vote to subpoena Bolton.

 

Democrats, Trump face off for first time

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced the seven Democrats who will be responsible for arguing the lower chamber’s case, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Hillicon Valley — Hacking goes global Schiff calls on Amazon, Facebook to address spread of vaccine misinformation Spotlight turns to GOP's McCarthy in Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Calif.), who spearheaded the impeachment inquiry, leading the team.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerAngelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators House panel advances immigration language for reconciliation bill Hillicon Valley —Apple is not a monopoly, judge rules MORE (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesFormer Bad Boy rapper turned politician meets with US lawmakers Watch live: House Democratic leaders hold press conference Congressional staff pay is still too low MORE (D-N.Y.), Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemocratic donors hesitant on wading into Florida midterm fights Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms First polls show mixed picture on Rubio-Demings race MORE (D-Fla.), Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenSpotlight turns to GOP's McCarthy in Jan. 6 probe Now is the time for bankruptcy venue reform Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report MORE (D-Calif.), Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Manchin: key energy provision of spending package 'makes no sense' Six moderate Democrats raise concerns about spending bill's energy measures Democrats introduce equal pay legislation for US national team athletes MORE (D-Texas) and Jason CrowJason CrowBiden expresses confidence on climate in renewable energy visit After messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain Defense & National Security — The mental scars of Afghanistan MORE (D-Colo.) were also named.

Meanwhile, White House counsel Pat Cipollone will lead Trump’s defense team, with the president’s personal attorney Jay SekulowJay Alan Sekulow57 House Republicans back Georgia against DOJ voting rights lawsuit The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - New video of riot unnerves many senators Trump legal switch hints at larger problems MORE acting as his No. 2. Whether Trump will try to add House Republicans to his team remains an open question.

 

Senators get to ask questions

Senators are expected to be able to submit questions through Roberts, who will read them aloud.

The Senate used two days during the 1999 Clinton trial to answer more than 150 questions submitted to then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Senators in 1999 had 16 hours for questions, and lawmakers say they expect the rules for Trump’s trial to give a similar amount of time.

Cornyn and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails The Memo: Like the dress or not, Ocasio-Cortez is driving the conversation again Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE (R-Texas) both said they were unclear what the order would be for how their questions get asked by Roberts. The chief justice is expected to say as he asks the question which senator it originated from, setting up key moments to watch as reporters try to infer what swing votes are thinking.

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Expected to go past State of the Union, Iowa caucuses

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who initially predicted the trial would be over by the State of the Union, told reporters that he now expects the proceeding will stretch beyond the scheduled Feb. 4 address.

The first phase of the trial — initial arguments and questions from senators — is expected to last roughly two weeks. After that, senators will still need to make a decision on hearing from witnesses and, eventually, vote on convicting or acquitting Trump.

The new time frame also has implications for Democratic White House hopefuls, grounding several candidates through the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

 

Press crackdown expected

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The Senate sergeant-at-arms and the Senate Rules Committee are preparing new press restrictions in the Capitol, sparking a backlash from reporters who warn it will interfere with their ability to cover the trial.

One restriction would require reporters to remain in press pens outside of the Senate chamber. They would not be able to leave the roped-in area to talk to senators.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) distanced himself from the proposed restrictions, calling them a “huge mistake” that “sends the wrong message.”

Most of the Senate’s deliberations are expected to be televised, though senators could go into “closed session,” where they would turn off cameras and remove reporters for a private discussion.

 

Trial will end in Trump acquittal

With 67 votes required to convict Trump and remove him from office, the Senate proceeding is all but guaranteed to end in his acquittal.

To convict Trump, Democrats would need 20 Republican senators, as well as their entire caucus. No Republican senator has said they view Trump’s actions as an impeachable offense.

But GOP senators also say they want to formally acquit Trump instead of dismissing the articles, even though the idea has been embraced by Trump. The rules resolution is not expected to include a built-in motion to dismiss, a break from the Clinton rules.

“There is little to no sentiment in [the] Republican conference for a motion to dismiss,” McConnell told reporters this week. “Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.”