07:39 GMT +317 November 2019
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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and former White House counsel Donald McGahn address the Kentucky chapters conference of The Federalist Society at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Monday, Oct. 7, 2019

    McConnell Tells Republican Senators to Prepare for Potential Trump Impeachment

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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his staff prepared his Republican caucus on Wednesday for the potential voting in an impeachment trial of President Trump in the coming months.

    McConnell gave the tutorial of sorts during the weekly GOP caucus luncheon, complete with a slide show and a slew of questions from Republican members.

    "We intend to do our constitutional responsibility," McConnell told reporters following the luncheon.

    The report came as the House impeachment inquiry has escalated in recent weeks, yet top Democrats have been reluctant to put hard time tables on when they will conclude their inquiry. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to announce the vote, most Democrats have indicated they would like to conclude their work by the end of the year.

    "That would be my hope," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday.

    If the House approves any articles of impeachment before the end of the year, it would give the Senate the month of January for a trial. Many lawmakers have indicated they would like to conclude the impeachment process before voters start casting ballots in the presidential primary process, which starts in Iowa on February 3.

    McConnell had indicated earlier on Wednesday that if articles of impeachment are passed by the House, the Senate will take the matter up. Under rule requirements, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would chair the proceedings, which would convene six days out of every week excluding Sundays at around 12:30 p.m. each day. McConnell and his staff told the caucus the trial could last as long as six to eight weeks, a senator in attendance said.

    "Senators will not be allowed to speak, which will be good therapy for a number of them," McConnell joked during the luncheon.

    During the luncheon, one member remarked the trial could make last year's difficult confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh "look like a walk in the park," Sen. Kevin Cramer said, adding that he hopes the issue will be resolved quickly.

    Cramer said senators were told the trial could occur between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, which could help fuel the urgency to wrap up the effort quickly.

    Addressing the concern of whether the charges are enough to remove Trump, Cramer indicated that he doesn't see enough evidence now for sufficient grounds for an impeachable offence for a high crime or misdemeanour.

    "We are talking about removal of a president, the bar should be high," Cramer said. "It's got to look a more calculating ... it's got to be a lot more egregious than what they are talking about — this phone call. That was just a couple of guys having a conversation."

    House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry on September 24 to probe whether Trump tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival, Joe Biden. Lawmakers initiated the inquiry after a whistleblower sent a complaint to Congress, saying that Trump threatened to withdraw military aid to Ukraine if Kyiv failed to probe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The Trump administration has said it will not cooperate with the impeachment probe because the House did not hold a formal vote to authorize the inquiry.

    Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has denounced the impeachment inquiry as a witch hunt aimed at reversing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

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    Tags:
    Donald Trump, impeachment, US Senate, USA, Mitch McConnell
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