Senate Impeachment Trial Will Likely Start Next Week: McConnell

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
January 14, 2020Updated: January 14, 2020

The Senate impeachment trial of Republican President Donald Trump will likely start next week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday.

McConnell said he expects to get the articles from the House tomorrow after House Democrats said they’d vote on sending the articles over on Wednesday.

The Senate will then go through preliminary steps, possibly including having Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, sworn in.

That would set the Senate up to start the trial on Jan. 21, McConnell said.

“It looks possible as of right now, and I think that’s likely to hold up,” McConnell said at a Republican Senate leadership press conference in Washington. He said the Senate would vote Tuesday on the initial trial guidelines.

Republicans have accused House Democrats of rushing the impeachment forward despite scant evidence, a charge they reiterated on Tuesday.

“I think it’s safe to say this is the most rushed, the most biased, and the most partisan impeachment process in history,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters, referring to the quick inquiry and the House vote to impeach Trump, which included no Republicans.

“We’re going to do our constitutional duty here. … But I would certainly hope that in the future that impeachment is reserved for what I think the founders intended: that is a serious remedy for serious crimes.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that “this process needs to be a process where everybody is heard and that the person who would benefit the most from everybody being heard is the president.”

Epoch Times Photo
Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton watches President Bill Clinton pause as he thanks those Democratic members of the House of Representatives on Dec. 19, 1998, who voted against impeachment at the White House in Washington. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)
First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump smile prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers at Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on Jan. 13, 2020. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

“He hasn’t had a chance to make his case. He’ll have that chance in the Senate. The Senate owes that to him and I think the Congress owes that to the country. We can’t just have a one-sided process that suddenly ends,” he added.

McConnell said that all 53 Senate Republicans still agree on voting for the initial trial guidelines, which will be “very, very similar” to the guidelines in the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton. The guidelines won’t include whether to include witnesses.

When the motion on whether to call witnesses does arise later in the trial, “Both sides would want to call witnesses,” McConnell said, signaling an openness to calling some witnesses Trump’s team wants called. “So when you get to that issue, I can’t imagine that only the witnesses that our Democratic colleagues would want to call would be called,” he added.

The Senate will hear from House managers, who will present the case against Trump, and representatives for Trump, who will present his case. They’ll then submit written questions—Senators aren’t allowed to speak during the trial—to both sides. After that, the Senate will vote on whether to call witnesses. And at some point, they’ll vote on whether to dismiss the articles or whether to convict Trump, removing him from office.

A simple majority is required to acquit Trump; a supermajority is required for conviction.

The press conference came after Pelosi confirmed the House would vote on sending the articles to the Senate on Wednesday.

“The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial. The House will now proceed with a vote on transmitting the articles of impeachment and naming impeachment managers on Wednesday, January 15,” she said.

“The President and the Senators will be held accountable.”