White House officials have voiced their support for a full trial if the House impeaches President Donald Trump. The White House met with several Republican Senators and said they want a full trial, rather than a quick dismissal of any articles of impeachment.
Those in attendance included White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shut down the option floated by some Republicans to quickly dismiss articles of impeachment against Trump, saying the matter should get a full trial.
Some Senate Republicans who are frequent allies of President Trump have called for the motion to speedily shut down an impeachment trial, a move that would require a simple majority of 51 votes.
Senators also informed the White House that there simply aren’t the votes to approve a motion to dismiss the trial; it would take just three Republicans to block any impeachment vote on the Senate floor.
The Republican senators who attended the meeting Thursday were Mike Lee of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
House Democrats are moving quickly in their impeachment inquiry, which centers on evidence that Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
Hogan Gidley, principal deputy press secretary for the White House, said on Fox Thursday that if the House moves forward with impeachment Trump “wants a trial in the Senate.”
While some Republicans say that Trump’s request for Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his family was inappropriate, they argue it’s not an impeachable offense. Still, the president is keeping close tabs on Republican senators, many of whom have noted they will play the role of “juror” in any Senate trial.
Trump has hosted more than 40 Republican senators at the White House this fall, mainly for lunch. Thursday’s lunch included Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, Trump’s most frequent GOP critics in the Senate.
Since the impeachment inquiry began, Trump has also taken lawmakers to the World Series in Washington, D.C., the Ultimate Fighting Championship in New York City and the Alabama-LSU football game, according to White House official.
While the House is all but certain to impeach Trump, many of the details of any Senate action — like the length of the trial or what types of amendments to trial rules or witnesses to consider — have yet to be hashed out between McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Senators acknowledged this week, however, that the impeachment trial will likely take place in January, a potential dilemma for the half dozen senators running for president.