US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is likely to begin in seven days with key players sworn in later this week, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday.
McConnell, a Republican senator from Kentucky, said that he expected the House of Representatives to send the articles of impeachment against Trump to the upper chamber on Wednesday.
McConnell said that “We believe that if that happens — in all likelihood — we’ll go through preliminary steps here this week which could well include the chief justice coming over and swearing-in members of the Senate and some other kinds of housekeeping measures”.
“We hope to achieve that by consent which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday”, he added.
Earlier on Monday, McConnell and Senate Republicans were trying to decide whether to include a motion to simply dismiss the charges against Trump outright, as the president wants, in the organizing resolution for the trial, according to a person familiar with the matter but unauthorised to discuss it.
Earlier in the month, McConnelle said that the Senate has enough votes to set the rules for Trump’s impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled Upper Chamber.
On December 18, Trump was impeached by the Democrat-led House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
McConnell has said that the Senate should model Trump’s impeachment trial after that of former President Bill Clinton, by dealing with potential witnesses once it begins.
The impeachment against Donald Trump now moves to the House of Representatives, where the opposition Democratic Party enjoys a majority. Once passed by the House, the trial for impeachment would be carried out in the 100-member US Senate, where President Trump’s Republican party has a majority.
Earlier, Trump described his impeachment probe as a hoax and politically motivated.
Nancy Pelosi has argued that the president’s conduct when it came to Ukraine left Democrats with “no choice but to act,” charging that Trump abused the powers of the presidency and leaving little doubt that the House will hold a vote to impeach him as early as before Christmas.
In September, the impeachment inquiry, which Nancy Pelosi initiated over a complaint by an anonymous whistleblower, is looking into White House’s alleged efforts to withhold military aid to have Ukraine investigate a Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
(With inputs from agency)