GOP senators say trial could wrap as soon as Saturday

GOP senators say trial could wrap as soon as Saturday
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans say former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE's impeachment trial could conclude as soon as Saturday.  

The timeline, which they stressed wasn't locked in, would mean the trial lasted five days, significantly shorter than any other presidential impeachment trial. Trump's first trial currently holds the record for being the shortest at 21 days.  

"Saturday is looking better all the time I would think for a final vote," Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRoy Blunt has helped forge and fortify the shared bonds between Australia and America The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, told reporters. 

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Sen. John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Texas) told reporters that senators are hoping "the thing concludes by Saturday." 

"It seems like the time is compressing," Cornyn said. 

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (R-W.Va.) appeared skeptical of the lightning quick timeline but acknowledged that she had gotten guidance the trial could wrap on Saturday. 

"The last I heard was Saturday, but I'm not sure that's going to be possible. I think it may be more like Sunday," Capito said. 

The trial was initially expected to last into early next week. The first version of the rules governing the proceeding paused the trial between Friday at 5 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, at the request of Trump's legal team in order to observe the Jewish Sabbath.

That made Senate aides think a final vote wasn't likely to take place until Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the earliest. The Senate was previously scheduled to leave for a one-week recess that would start on Monday, Feb. 15. 

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But Trump's team withdrew the request, citing concerns about slowing down the trial. And the Senate agreed to work through the weekend — on both Saturday and Sunday — underscoring their desire to get the trial behind them. Typically impeachment trials meet for six days a week, but don't convene on Sunday.  

Speeding things up further, Trump's legal team is supposed to wrap up its arguments on Friday. Under the trial rules they have 16 hours, which they can use on both Friday and Saturday.  

"We will finish up our presentation tomorrow/Friday," Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, announced in a tweet. 

The House impeachment managers are using both of their days, but are expected to yield back some time. They started their opening arguments on Tuesday and continued on Wednesday, when the trial is expected to wrap around 6 p.m.  

After opening arguments, senators still have up to four hours to ask questions. That's significantly shorter than the two days used in Trump's first trial. 

Aides also expect that the trial could go straight from the question-and-answer period to up to two hours of debate over whether or not to call witnesses.  

Neither Trump's legal team nor the House managers have completely closed the door on calling witnesses, but senators have signaled they don't think it's necessary. Calling witnesses, something Democrats unsuccessfully tried to do during Trump's first trial, would drag the proceeding out for days if not weeks. 

After that the only steps left before a final vote is for both sides to make closing arguments, something they have four hours to do, and the potential for senators to take time to deliberate.  

During Trump's first trial, senators gave themselves days to give Senate floor speeches before the final vote on convicting or acquiring Trump. Senators have not locked themselves into a similar time frame for the current trial, but the rules resolution leaves the door open for deliberation.  

"I think both Republicans and Democrats would like to have this completed by Saturday," said Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Senate passes T bipartisan infrastructure bill in major victory for Biden MORE (R-S.D.).  

"I think the House and the defense may very well recognize if they can read the Senate .... I think it would behoove them all to be brief and direct," he added.