As the impeachment trial gets underway this week in the US Senate, there’s a lot of focus on how long the process may play out, with Sen. Lindsey Graham letting it be known Sunday that the likelihood of an immediate dismissal is pretty much out.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has a reputation for being ruthless in his control of the upper chamber, has previously signaled his intentions to make short work of the impeachment trial.
To that effect, McConnell is close to finalizing a rule that would allow President Trump’s team to move to dismiss the articles of impeachment quickly after some evidence has been presented, Fox News reported.
The move is seen as a de facto “safety valve” in the event Democrats try to drag out the trial for weeks. In effect, McConnell does not intend to allow Rep. Adam Schiff and his merry band of co-conspirators to hijack proceedings.
At the center of the issue is the matter of whether to allow new witnesses or not, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, appeared on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” to say the Senate trial could extend “to six to eight weeks or even longer” if additional witnesses are allowed.
“I think it’s certainly possible that this trial could last one to two weeks. On the other hand, if the Senate makes the decision to go down the road of additional witnesses, that could extend it to six to eight weeks or even longer,” Cruz said.
Cruz is one of a small number of GOP senators open to allowing witnesses, which Democrats want to do. Others include Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Mitt Romney, R-Utah; and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Democrats need just four GOP defections to succeed.
Graham was adamant that he has no interest in a long, drawn out trial.
“I want this trial to get over as quick as possible,” he said. “I want the people of the United States to pick the next president, not a court of impeachment.”
As noted by Fox News, a long trial could impact the presidential aspirations of Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who would get pulled off the campaign trail.
McConnell, who reportedly has no obligation to publicize his final resolution setting the parameters of the impeachment trial until Tuesday, has support for including the “kill switch.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told Axios he would be “very, very surprised” if McConnell didn’t include it.
“I am familiar with the resolution as it stood a day or two ago,” Hawley stated. “My understanding is that the resolution will give the president’s team the option to either move to judgment or to move to dismiss at a meaningful time.”
Hawley shared online that Trump “deserves the right during Senate trial to ask for a verdict or move to dismiss — otherwise trial will become endless circus run by Adam Schiff.”
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 19, 2020
While Cruz proposed an idea he called “witness reciprocity,” where the defense gets a witness for each one the prosecution gets, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz is confident that he will make the whole matter a moot point.
Alan Dershowitz: "If my argument succeeds, there's no need for witnesses." pic.twitter.com/JVmuF1sb99
— The Hill (@thehill) January 19, 2020
Dershowitz, a member of President Trump’s legal team, is set to present an argument against impeachment, saying the House charges don’t include impeachable offenses and the Senate should vote “to acquit, or dismiss.”
“If my argument succeeds, there’s no need for witnesses,” he said Sunday during an appearance on CNN.
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