The White House said in a meeting with several GOP senators Thursday that it wants a full Senate trial if the House impeaches President Trump, rather than an immediate dismissal of any articles of impeachment.
“They want some kind of factual affirmative defense on the merits,” one person who attended the meeting said of Trump’s Republican supporters.
Those in attendance included White House counsel Pat Cipollone, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s son-in-law 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 Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, David Perdue have all said they back such a motion.
“I don’t think there’s any question that we have to take up the matter. The rules of impeachment are very clear, we’ll have to have a trial,” McConnell said.
“My own view is that we should give people the opportunity to put the case on,” the Kentucky Republican said. “On the issue of how long it goes on, it’s really kind of up to the Senate. People will have to conclude are they learning something new? At some point we’ll get to an end.”
Back in 1999, Senate Democrats unsuccessfully sought such an early dismissal of the articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton.
Public impeachment hearings are underway in the House as witnesses testify this week before the Intelligence Committee. Thursday’s hearing featured Trump’s former adviser Fiona Hill, who testified that the press campaign by the administration on Ukraine over a potential investigation into Joe Biden was politically motivated. She also denounced the “false narrative” by Republicans and Trump that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, calling it a “fiction” that has its roots in Russia.