Republicans may rush impeachment trial to clear Trump before State of the Union

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Mitch McConnell might include a rule allowing Trump's defense team to move to dismiss the impeachment articles if the trial is going on too long.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) revealed over the weekend that Donald Trump is hoping for a very short impeachment trial — one that will be done before he delivers the State of the Union address on Feb. 4, CNN reported on Sunday.

Graham said that Trump wants to have the impeachment trial "behind him" before his annual address to Congress and the nation.

"The sooner this is over, the better for the country," Graham, who admitted he will not be impartial in the trial despite swearing an oath to do so, said, according to Politico. "We can get back to doing the business of the American people and do things that really matter to them."

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Graham has been a part of a GOP Senate majority that has consistently blocked hundreds of House passed bills on issues important to the American people, including bills addressing gun safety, violence against women, LGBTQ equality, equal pay, health care, and prescription drug prices.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is plotting to include a "kill switch" to end the trial quickly, Fox News reported on Sunday. The measure would "give the president's team the option to either move to judgment or to move to dismiss at a meaningful time," Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) told Axios, which first reported news about this option.

When the House was investigating possible articles of impeachment against Trump, Republicans roundly criticized Democrats for rushing to finish the articles by the end of 2019.

"The artificial and arbitrary political deadline by which Democrats are determined to finish impeachment by Christmas leads to a rushed process," Steve Castor, lead GOP counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, said on Dec. 9. He said the rushing led to "missed opportunities to obtain relevant information."

Yet since the House approved two articles of impeachment in December, Republicans in the Senate have struggled with how to proceed, seemingly opposed to obtaining the relevant information Castor desired.

Many Republicans, including McConnell, don't want any witnesses in the trial, even though Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton said he would testify if the Senate called him. Bolton could know crucial details about the Ukrainian scandal at the heart of Trump's impeachment.

When potentially damning new evidence surfaced last week from Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Maine's Republican Sen. Susan Collins downplayed the findings, and took it as an opportunity to question Democrats motives. Collins later said in a statement that she would consider additional material in the trial only after both sides have made their arguments.

Parnas recently implicated many members of the Trump administration, including Trump himself, in the scheme to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the allegations that led to Trump's impeachment.

"President Trump knew exactly what was going on," Parnas told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

The trial is set to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

If Senate Republicans submit to Trump's request, they would have less than two weeks — only 12 days — to conduct the third impeachment trial in U.S. history.

Update: This story has been updated to include recent statements about admission of new evidence in the Senate trial from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.