Impeachment trial against Trump to begin next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Senate will begin debating an organizing resolution to start impeachment trial next Tuesday.

Ben Ariel ,

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday that the Senate will begin debating an organizing resolution to start US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday of next week.

The GOP leader said Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in senators as jurors this week, before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, according to The Hill.

McConnell said the House of Representatives is expected to send over articles of impeachment on Wednesday and that the Senate will then have to go through a series of preliminary steps and housekeeping measures.

“We hope to achieve that by consent, which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday,” he added.

McConnell clarified that a debate and vote on the organizing resolution, which will determine time limits for the House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team to make their opening arguments as well as for senators to ask questions, will happen next week.

The Senate will then notify the president’s defense team to appear and give the White House several days to respond.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) said Trump’s legal team must be given at least two days' notice, which means that opening arguments may not start until later next week.

McConnell reasserted that the Senate GOP conference is entirely unified behind an organizing resolution that would follow the precedent set by the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial.

“All 53 of us have reached an understanding very, very similar to the one that was achieved at the beginning of the Clinton impeachment trial 100 to nothing that would set up the arguments by the parties — the prosecutors and defense — and then the written question period,” he was quoted as having said.

After senators hear these opening arguments, “the more contentious issue of witnesses will be addressed by the Senate,” McConnell added.

On the charged subject of whether the Senate will vote to subpoena key witnesses, McConnell warned Tuesday that GOP senators may well call on former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden to testify about their Ukraine-related dealings if Democrats subpoena senior administration officials.

“We’ll be dealing with the witness issue at the appropriate time into the trial, and I think it’s certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses that they wanted to hear from,” he told reporters.

He criticized the House impeachment inquiry as unfair and incomplete.

“If you look at the House product, you really got to wonder what the definition of a fair trial is. They did almost nothing that you would expect the House to do in order to set up this case in order to be considered by the Senate,” he said.

The House passed the articles of impeachment against Trump last month, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to formally send the two impeachment articles to the Senate so it can begin the trial.

Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that if the House does not submit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, he will seek to change the impeachment rules so the Senate can proceed to a trial without them.