Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a top Trump ally, said Wednesday that he wants the looming impeachment trial to be wrapped before the scheduled Feb. 4 State of the Union address.
“The best thing for the American people is to end this crap as quickly as possible, to have a trial in the Senate, bipartisan acquittal of the president. And on Feb. 4, when the president comes into the House chamber to deliver the State of the Union, he will have been acquitted by the Senate,” Graham said during an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity.
The Senate’s impeachment trial is expected to formally begin when senators and Chief Justice John Roberts are sworn in on Thursday. Senators are expected to pass a resolution on the rules for the trial on Tuesday and start opening arguments later in the week.
Republican senators initially hoped to finish the trial
by the State of the Union, but Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who previously predicted it would be wrapped by the speech, said this week
he no longer views that as a realistic timeline. Sen. John Thune
(R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, also warned that it would be a “fairly tight deadline.”
The first phase of the trial — opening arguments and questions from senators — is expected to last roughly two weeks. That would put the end of that phase up against or potentially past the State of the Union.
After that senators are expected to have to decide on whether to call additional witnesses or request documents, a decision that is putting a spotlight on divisions within the Senate Republican caucus.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has said he wants to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton, while a handful of other Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), are viewed as potential swing votes.
Democrats have requested four witnesses, including Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. They need four GOP senators to give them the simple majority needed to call a witness.
However, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and conservatives are warning that if Republicans vote to help Democrats subpoena Bolton, they will force votes on subpoenaing controversial figures such as Hunter Biden and the whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
Graham on Wednesday said he hopes that “nobody will be called as a witness” and warned Republican senators against believing that Democrats want to get to the bottom of Trump’s decision to delay Ukraine aid.
“I would tell my colleagues on the Republican side that Chuck Schumer is not seeking the truth. If you think Chuck Schumer is trying to find out what happened here, you’re missing a lot,” Graham said in reference to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Chuck Schumer is trying to take back the Senate.”