Senate impeachment trial expected to begin next week

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The Senate is readying for the impeachment trial of President Trump to officially get underway next week as Republicans and Democrats continue to jostle over whether witnesses will be called and wait for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to officially transmit the articles to the upper chamber.

Pelosi is scheduled to meet with the Democratic caucus later this morning to determine next steps, which are expected to include sending the articles across the Capitol by the end of the week and naming impeachment managers.

As Scott Wong writes, the final actions by Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) could include the decision to publish dozens of documents, recordings, photos and text messages from Lev Parnas, an associate of  Rudy Giuliani, that may be relevant to the impeachment trial. Publishing the documents and related information could play into the decision for Senate Republicans to call witnesses or not in the coming weeks.

After the articles are sent to the Senate, the trial is expected to start soon. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a top adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told reporters Monday that opening arguments of the trial are expected to start on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

One thing Senate Republicans have not released yet is the resolution laying out the rules for the impending trial. According to The Hill’s Jordain Carney, GOP aides expect the resolution to be released after Pelosi sends the articles to the Senate. Negotiations over the language in the resolution are ongoing.

The Hill: Republicans brush off Trump’s call for impeachment dismissal.

CBS News: White House expects GOP defections on calling witnesses in Senate impeachment trial.

The Associated Press: Lawyer: Giuliani associate’s documents turned over to House.

As for the president, while he’s been vocal and maintained that he did nothing wrong, he continues to send mixed signals to the Senate GOP about what he wants from the upcoming trial. Trump’s tweets from over the weekend, saying that he wants an “outright dismissal” of the articles by the Senate, puts him in conflict with the strategy McConnell has advocated for weeks.

Senate Republicans say they are sticking with their goal of a quick trial, with most of the conference ready to eschew calling witnesses, although some have indicated that they want to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton at some point.

While the vast majority of Senate Republicans would prefer not to hear from Bolton, most Americans say they’re all ears. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, 66 percent of respondents want Bolton to serve as a witness in the Senate trial, including 39 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 91 percent of Democrats (Axios).

It remains unclear whether additional witnesses will ultimately be called as Senate Democrats search for four Republican colleagues to agree with them. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) continued to argue Monday that McConnell and the GOP will be engaging in a cover-up if witnesses are not called.

“If seeking the truth is political, if doing our constitutional duty is political in the minds of our Republican colleagues, then the Republican Party is in trouble,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “History is not kind to political parties that fight to hide the truth. History is not kind to parties that participate in cover-ups.” 

Meanwhile, McConnell kept up his criticisms of Pelosi for her “one-woman blockade” of the Senate trial.

“In terms of influencing Senate procedure, this strange gambit has achieved absolutely nothing,” McConnell said on the floor, adding that he is “glad the speaker finally realized she never had any leverage in the first place … and is giving in to bipartisan pressure to move forward.”

The Hill: How impeachment differs from court trials.

The Associated Press: McConnell is Trump’s man, assigned to shape his Senate trial.

The Hill: Poll: 51 percent of Americans support House vote to impeach Trump.

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