The leader of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, told his co-religionists on Wednesday that he hopes that if there is a political trial against U.S. President Donald Trump, it will develop quickly and conclude before the end of the year.
At a luncheon with Senate Republicans, McConnell said his expectation is that the investigation opened by the Democrats will lead House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass articles for a impeachment trial against Trump around Thanksgiving Day on November 28.
McConnell estimates that would allow the Senate to immediately begin the impeachment trial and conclude it before Christmas, Politico and The Washington Post reported after speaking with several lunchgoers.
Democrats in the Lower House have been unwilling to set a clear agenda for their impeachment investigation and have only indicated that they hope to complete it by 2020, but McConnell is confident they will agree to expedite the investigation so as not to step foot in the Democratic presidential primaries, which begin in February.
“He believes that the Democrats agree that this should not be extended for five weeks,” one of the lunch attendees, who asked for anonymity, told Politico.
The main action of the political trial would then focus on the three weeks separating Christmas Thanksgiving, “and that would be wonderful because nothing motivates senators more than the deadline for the next vacation,” Republican Senator Kevin Cramer told the Post.
If the Senate initiated a political trial, the process would take place six days a week, with only Sundays as a day off, McConnell told legislators.
The House of Representatives would need a simple majority of 218 legislators to send indictments against Trump to the Senate, which seems feasible because Democrats hold 235 seats.
However, the impeachment itself would take place in the Senate, and it would take two-thirds of the vote to expel Trump from office, which is highly unlikely given that Republicans control 53 of the chamber’s 100 seats.
While McConnell has been willing to initiate impeachment if asked to do so by the House, he has also not ruled out the possibility of interrupting it at some point in the process, an option for which he would only need a simple majority in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Democrats’ investigation continued Wednesday with the closed-door testimony of Michael McKinley, a career diplomat with nearly four decades of experience who resigned last week from his post as adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo due to controversy over Ukraine.
According to the newspaper Politico, McKinley said he decided to resign because he was deeply alarmed by the revelations about Ukraine and felt that the State Department did not do enough to protect former White House ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from partisan pressure.
Yovanovitch testified last week in Congress and said Trump pressured the State Department to fire her as ambassador, perhaps because of the financial interests in Ukraine of the partners of the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.