live updates McConnell says Senate impeachment trial likely to begin next week

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By Grace Segers, Stefan Becket

/ CBS NEWS

Pelosi meets with Dems on impeachment plans

Washington — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects President Trump's impeachment trial to get underway on Tuesday, January 21, as House Democrats prepare to approve a resolution needed to begin proceedings.

The House will vote Wednesday to name impeachment managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate for the trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday.

At a meeting with fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill, Pelosi laid out the timing for the vote, and lawmakers emerging from the meeting unanimously said they support the plan. In a subsequent statement, Pelosi said Senate Republicans would be engaging in a "cover-up" if members vote to dismiss the articles without hearing from witnesses.

"The American people will fully understand the Senate's move to begin the trial without witnesses and documents as a pure political cover-up," Pelosi said. "Leader McConnell and the President are afraid of more facts coming to light."

Pelosi did not reveal the names of the impeachment managers in the meeting, but several members said they assume the team will be led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who both spoke in the meeting and laid out in detail how the Senate trial will work.

New Updates Updated 4:18 PM

Blunt says it's "hard to imagine" trial being over before State of the Union

Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri told reporters it's "hard to imagine" the Senate trial will be over by the president's State of the Union address, scheduled for February 4. Pelosi on December 20 invited the president to deliver the annual address.

The Senate trial is expected to take three to five weeks, likely beginning next Tuesday.

"As I recall, President Clinton gave his State of the Union, in the middle of that process and I would expect, no reason to believe that same thing wouldn't happen by the State of the Union," Blunt said. "You know, if we'd have gotten started properly we might have, but it's hard to imagine."

Clinton did not mention his impeachment trial during the 1999 address. — Kathryn Watson and Alan He

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2:42 PM

McConnell says "both sides" likely to call witnesses

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, McConnell said the Senate will deal with the question of witnesses once the trial gets underway, and noted the president and his legal team would also want to call witnesses of their own.

"We will be dealing with the witness issue at the appropriate time into the trial," McConnell said. "And I think it's certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses that they wanted to hear from."

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on impeachment trial: "We will be dealing with the witness issue at the appropriate time into the trial. And I think it's certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses that they wanted to hear from." pic.twitter.com/hAMzGhLlsm

— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 14, 2020

By Stefan Becket

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Updated 11:53 AM

Pelosi confirms timing for vote on designating impeachment managers

Pelosi confirmed in a statement that the House will vote on the resolution to designate impeachment managers on Wednesday.

"The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial. The House will now proceed with a vote on transmitting the articles of impeachment and naming impeachment managers on Wednesday, January 15," Pelosi said. "The President and the Senators will be held accountable."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday that he expects the impeachment articles will be physically delivered to the Senate on the same day as the vote.

By Grace Segers

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Updated 11:19 AM

McCarthy says Pelosi withheld articles to keep Sanders off the campaign trail

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested that Pelosi withheld the impeachment articles not to pressure McConnell to allow new witnesses and evidence in the Senate, but to delay the trial itself.

McCarthy accused the speaker of trying to keep Senator Bernie Sanders off the campaign trail ahead of the Iowa caucuses on February 3. Senators are required to attend trial proceedings in Washington for six days a week until a judgment is reached.

"If there's anyone it gained from this it would be anybody who's running for president that's not in the U.S. Senate," McCarthy told reporters, reviving an accusation that the Democratic National Committee actively tried to prevent Sanders from getting the nomination in 2016.

"So Senator Sanders actually has a chance to win. But not now that Nancy Pelosi has held these documents. There was nothing gained. It goes against everything she said, but if you look at the true political nature of why — to harm one campaign and give a benefit to another," McCarthy alleged.

Three other senators — Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet — would likewise be taken off the campaign trail for the duration of the trial. McCarthy called on former Vice President Joe Biden to forgo campaigning until a verdict is reached.

"The only rightful thing of Joe Biden is to make a pledge not to campaign while Bernie Sanders cannot, after what the Democrat National Committee had done to his campaign a few short years ago," McCarthy said. — Grace Segers and Rebecca Kaplan

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Updated 10:44 AM

Schumer accuses McConnell of smearing Democrats over witness requests

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed back against McConnell's assertion that Democrats are only seeking witnesses in the impeachment trial in the Senate to bolster a weak argument and attack the president.

"The most the Republican leader to do is smear our request as some partisan fishing expedition," Schumer said. House Democrats have withheld the impeachment articles from the Senate in an attempt to get McConnell to allow new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial.

McConnell has said he wants the Senate to vote on whether to hear witnesses after opening statements in the trial. Schumer said that not calling witnesses would break centuries of precedent.

"Do Senate Republicans want to break the lengthy historical precedent that says witnesses should be in an impeachment trial by conducting a first impeachment trial in history — in history, since 1789 — with no witnesses?" Schumer asked.

By Grace Segers

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Updated 10:29 AM

McConnell says Senate won't let House "dictate" terms of trial

Speaking on the Senate floor in response to the timing of the House vote, McConnell mocked Democrats and said the Senate would not be beholden to the lower chamber when determining trial procedures.

McConnell questioned why Pelosi chose to withhold the articles of impeachment until January, instead of immediately transmitting them to the Senate. He also took a shot at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, condemning the minority leader for saying the trial was a "win-win" for Democrats if it hurts Republicans up for reelection.

"Do these sound like leaders who really believe we're in a constitutional crisis, one that requires the most severe remedy in our entire system of government?" McConnell asked.

He also reiterated that he would not allow House Democrats to "dictate" the terms of the Senate trial. Democrats have called for new witnesses and evidence to be admitted in the trial, an argument which has swayed some Republicans.

"Impeachment is not a political game and the United States Senate will not treat it like one," McConnell said.

By Grace Segers

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Updated 9:49 AM

Pelosi suggests Wednesday vote on impeachment managers

In her meeting with fellow House Democrats, Pelosi suggested the House vote to designate impeachment managers and transmit both articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday, according to a Democratic aide.

By Nancy Cordes

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Updated 9:15 AM

White House expects GOP defections on calling witnesses

The White House is preparing for some Republican senators to join Democrats in voting to call witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial, which could get underway in the coming days.

Senior White House officials tell CBS News they increasingly believe that at least four Republicans, and likely more, will vote to call witnesses. In addition to Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and possibly Cory Gardner of Colorado, the White House also views Rand Paul of Kentucky as a "wild card" and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee as an "institutionalist" who might vote to call witnesses, as one official put it.

Read more here.

By Kathryn Watson

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First published on January 14, 2020 / 4:18 PM