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GOP warns impeachment trial could spill over into next week

Some Senate Republicans and Trump administration officials are signaling the impeachment trial could spill over into next week.

The timeline is largely dependent on two things: how long senators want to deliberate and the level of cooperation between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlexander to vote no on witnesses, bringing trial close to end Swing votes steal spotlight in marathon Trump impeachment Q&A Murkowski asks why should Bolton not testify before Senate MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDershowitz says media ‘willfully distorted’ his view of presidential power McConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump’s trial Ted Cruz clarifies after Lev Parnas’s lawyer calls senator’s tweet ‘fake news’ MORE (D-N.Y.) — which has been in short supply during the trial so far.

“It’s a possibility that this could extend on another day or so,” said Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsNapolitano says bringing up new charges would be ‘mistrial’ if impeachment were in criminal court Senate GOP could move to quick Trump acquittal vote GOP senators believe they have the votes to block witnesses MORE (R-S.D.) when asked about the possibility of the trial continuing into next week.

The trial was already expected to go until early Saturday morning. Because of the impeachment trial rules, if the proceedings go past Saturday it would automatically roll over into Monday, the same day as the Iowa caucuses.

Rounds, when asked what could slow down the proceedings, said there were some “time constraints,” including how many members want to take 15 minutes to make a statement on the Senate floor.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSwing votes steal spotlight in marathon Trump impeachment Q&A GOP predicts Roberts won’t cast tie-breaking vote on witnesses Senate GOP could move to quick Trump acquittal vote MORE (R-Texas) told reporters he would be “surprised” if the trial wrapped up on Friday and that without cooperation it could drag on for days.

It could “carry us over to the first part of next week,” Cornyn said.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMcConnell group to host Super Bowl weekend fundraiser The Hill’s Morning Report – Nearing witness vote, GOP rushes to acquit Trump Overnight Defense: Bolton, GOP senators see close ties challenged | Republicans fume over Dem maneuver on Iran bills |Trump criticizes Democrats over war powers vote MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, told reporters after a closed-door caucus lunch that the timing of the end of the trial wasn’t locked down. 

McConnell, according to Blunt, is expected to offer a resolution that lays out the process for wrapping up that proceeding. The original rules provide few guidelines about how the chamber gets from the witness vote to final votes. 

He stressed that he had “no best guesses” about if the trial ends by Saturday or gets delayed. He noted that it was “certainly a possibility” that Republicans will hold a caucus meeting after a witness vote later Friday to determine what schedule 51 senators would support.

“I think that’s what we have to decide,” he said, asked about the potential the trial would go into next week. “Whether you can get everything done you need to get done and have a sense that you had plenty of time.”

A resolution offered by McConnell to set up how the trial ends would be debatable. That means, similar to the rules resolution, Democrats could force hours upon hours of votes. Republicans could table any proposals with a simple majority. 

A GOP aide stressed that the trial schedule was “in flux.”

A spokesman for McConnell said there was no guidance on the schedule beyond Friday’s witness vote.

A senior administration official told The Hill that it appeared the Senate would move toward voting on a procedural resolution laying out the rules for the trial’s conclusion after the witness vote, rather than an immediate up-or-down vote on whether to convict or acquit.

 

That could mean a verdict is not reached until next week. The official indicated that the situation is fluid and could change as Friday’s proceedings get underway.

Republicans have been prepared to continue the trial into Friday night or early Saturday morning.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneJohn Roberts refuses to read question from Rand Paul on whistleblower Rand Paul to ‘insist’ on whistleblower question blocked by John Roberts John Roberts blocks Rand Paul’s question on whistleblower MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters on Thursday that there were several senators on both sides of the aisle that either wanted to be able to discuss their votes in closed session or potentially publicly on the floor.

Delaying the trial would have serious ramifications for Democratic presidential candidates, who have been planning to swing through Iowa ahead of the state’s caucuses on Monday.

Tuesday, meanwhile, is when Trump is scheduled to give his State of the Union address to Congress.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDemocrats make closing arguments to Iowa voters Klobuchar meets with Congressional Hispanic Caucus campaign arm Bloomberg says he won’t change donor policy to make debate stage MORE (D-Minn.), one of four senators seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, brought up the speculation that the trial could go into next week, saying, “I just say bring it on.”

“My view is that the people of Iowa and beyond will understand,” she said. 

Even amid the chatter about a delayed end to the trial, some GOP senators signaled they want to get it over with.

“I don’t know, but it couldn’t come sooner for me,” Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidySenators opt to drink milk on Senate floor during impeachment trial Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat Trump trade deal faces uncertain Senate timeline MORE (R-La.) told reporters asks when he thought it would end.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSwing votes steal spotlight in marathon Trump impeachment Q&A John Roberts refuses to read question from Rand Paul on whistleblower Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial MORE (R-S.C) said extending the trial would be a “mistake.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunLive coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial Napolitano says bringing up new charges would be ‘mistrial’ if impeachment were in criminal court McConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump’s trial MORE (R-Ind.) said he was “disappointed” in talk of delaying the trial until Wednesday, which he said he had heard from his staff.

Updated: 2 p.m.

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