McConnell previews Senate impeachment trial and speculates it could end by Christmas
Posted October 16, 2019 5:42 p.m. EDT
CNN — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a preview of how a possible impeachment trial in the chamber would be conducted in a closed-door lunch with Republican senators on Wednesday, answering questions about the rules guiding the proceedings and speculating that it will be over by Christmas.
McConnell prepared his colleagues on what's to come as the House investigates allegations that President Donald Trump abused his power in asking a Ukrainian leader to interfere in the 2020 presidential election.
McConnell said that the trial would start in the early afternoon each day, six days a week, with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding over the Senate. He said that the House could pass articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving and the Senate could then finish its trial by Christmas, according to a Republican present. McConnell's office declined to provide a readout of the meeting.
"One of the hypotheticals is we get these before Thanksgiving break," said Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican. "There's great motivation to get this done by Christmas."
McConnell also said Wednesday that senators would not be allowed to kibitz on the floor per usual -- and warned that they could be kicked out if they do, according to a senator who attended the lunch.
"Senators will not be allowed to speak, which will be good therapy for a number of them," said McConnell in a news conference after the meeting. "We intend to do our constitutional responsibility."
If a majority of the House voted to impeach the President charging him with crimes, it is unlikely that two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate would then decide to remove him from office.
McConnell's campaign has already released an ad in which McConnell says "the way that impeachment stops" is with him as majority leader of the Senate.
A government whistleblower told the intelligence community inspector general that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of an energy company, Burisma Holdings, whose owner had been probed by the former Ukrainian general prosecutor. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
Many Republicans in Congress have said that there was no quid pro quo on the call. The President has called the investigation a witch hunt.