Impeachment trial of President Trump
GOP Sens. John Barrasso and Roy Blunt say a deal has been reached on an acquittal vote next week.
The agreement would allow for four or five Democratic amendment votes tonight, and no weekend session. Closing arguments for both sides would occur on Monday.
Senators would deliver floor speeches on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
And an acquittal vote would occur on Wednesday afternoon — after President Trump's State of the Union address.
McConnell and Schumer have a deal on this, the senators said.
The Senate just voted down a motion that would have allowed witnesses and documents at trial — but what happens next is unclear.
Senators are meeting to discuss the path forward. We're not sure exactly when the Senate could move on to a final vote on the articles of impeachment against President Trump — but if it's pushed into next week, it could conflict with several other big political events.
Here's a reminder of what's on the schedule for next week:
- Monday: The Iowa caucuses, which is the first primary election of 2020
- Tuesday: President Trump's State of the Union address
- Friday: Democratic debate in New Hampshire
One GOP source says Democrats offered to go through three amendments tonight — if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would agree to a vote on Wednesday (after the State of the Union address).
If McConnell doesn’t agree to that offer, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has threatened essentially to force as many tough votes as he can to inflict political pain on McConnell’s 2020 crowd.
The view for Republicans is that Democrats will want to get to Iowa (remember: the caucuses are on Monday).
The view from Democrats is that the GOP wants Trump cleared ASAP with as little pain to McConnell’s conference as possible.
When asked how his GOP colleagues feel about staying through the weekend or reconvene next week to finish the impeachment trial, Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “I think most people would like to get over like right now."
"But, you know, the system is the system. They’ve got to decide our friends on the other side, how many motions they want to make. What kind of points they want to make. But the cake is baked. And we just need to go ahead and move on as soon as we can," Graham added.
A person involved in the floor discussions tells CNN the there are a number of different issues running up against one another in the current negotiations — a “clash of competing priorities.”
Democrats are looking for a specific number of amendments and attempting to use the State of the Union as a bargaining chip.
Republicans are dealing with their own internal issues while also also trying to use the Iowa caucuses as a bargaining chip.
The discussions got to the point where it was clear no concrete progress would be made until both sides broke and met behind closed doors, so the decision was made to move forward with the vote and recess, the person says.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has retired, according to a senior State Department official. It is unclear when she retired, but the official said it was sometime in the last two weeks.
Yovanovitch was a career foreign service officer for more than 30 years, who was pulled from her post as Ambassador to Ukraine at the order of President Donald Trump.
Yovanovitch is the fourth top State Department official who has departed in the wake of the Ukraine impeachment inquiry. The others are former US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, former Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Michael McKinley, the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
NPR was first to report her retirement, which comes about two months after she provided public testimony as part of the House impeachment inquiry. She said she was “devastated” to find out that Trump had discussed her in such a negative way during his call with President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. She said Trump’s comments about her “sounded like a threat.”
Yovanovtich did meet with diplomatic security after the revelations earlier this month that Robert Hyde and Lev Parnas were discussing surveilling her while she was in Kyiv. That investigation has not yet concluded.
Pompeo has never defended Yovanovitch by name. During an interview in Ukraine today, when asked if he felt any moral tension about Yovanvotich, Pompeo said he did not.
“We delivered for the President of the United States on a Ukraine policy that will benefit the American people I hope for years and years to come,” Pompeo said in an ABC News interview.
More background on Yovanovitch: In May 2019, Yovanovitch was recalled to Washington, months earlier than expected. The State Department said at the time that Yovanovitch was "concluding her 3-year diplomatic assignment as planned" and that her departure aligned with the presidential transition in Ukraine.
The Senate is on recess as Senate leadership try to negotiate a path forward on the impeachment trial.
Republicans are meeting in the Strom Thurmond Room, which is near Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office and the Capitol Rotunda on the second floor of the Capitol.
A big part of the debate among Republicans now is when senators would begin floor speeches.
Sen. John Cornyn told CNN Democrats want to try to “embarrass” the President by insisting on a Wednesday acquittal vote — after the State of the Union. Cornyn said they would try to move it up, including potentially with a weekend session.
But the talks will continue.
Asked by reporters what’s next, Sen. John Thune said simply:
“Well, we’re still trying to figure out how to land the plane."
Meanwhile, Democrats are meeting in the LBJ Room, their normal meeting room just off the Senate floor.
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says senators are discussing the next steps in the impeachment trial.
“Senators will now confer among ourselves, with the House Managers, and with the President’s counsel to determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days,” he said in a statement.
Read McConnell's statement in full below:
A majority of the U.S. Senate has determined that the numerous witnesses and 28,000-plus pages of documents already in evidence are sufficient to judge the House managers’ accusations and end this impeachment trial.
There is no need for the Senate to re-open the investigation which the House Democratic majority chose to conclude and which the Managers themselves continue to describe as “overwhelming” and “beyond any doubt.” Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation. We have no interest in establishing such a new precedent, particularly for individuals whom the House expressly chose not to pursue.
Senators will now confer among ourselves, with the House Managers, and with the President’s counsel to determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days.
After the vote to call witnesses failed, Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke outside the Senate floor calling it "a grand tragedy."
"America will remember this day, unfortunately, when the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, when the Senate turned away from truth and went along with a sham trial," Schumer said.
He said he will now going back to the Democratic caucus to discuss what they're going to do next.