WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday signaled it does not believe President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled Senate will take longer than two weeks as top aides dismissed the need for witnesses and documents demanded by congressional Democrats.
A senior administration official speaking to reporters insisted that "it's extraordinarily unlikely that we'd be going beyond two weeks." The official spoke hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) named seven House Democrats as impeachment managers tasked with prosecuting the case against Trump in the upcoming trial.
“We think that this case is overwhelming for the president, and the Senate’s not going to be having any need to be taking that amount of time on this,” the official said when asked if the White House had any plans to postpone Trump’s State of the Union address that is scheduled for Feb. 4.
Senate Republican leaders have said they have enough votes to ensure that Trump is acquitted on the charge he abused his office by seeking a foreign investigation into his Democratic political rivals and the charge he obstructed Congress by repeatedly defying subpoenas issued by House Democrats.
The official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about internal discussions, did not discount the possibility that Senate Republicans would move to dismiss the charges against Trump, calling it an “appropriate” option.
The official’s assertions came as congressional Democrats continued to press Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow for additional witness testimony and documents in the trial that GOP leaders have said could start on Jan. 21.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a Senate floor speech, argued that a trove of documents released by House Democrats on Tuesday related to Rudy Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine acting on behalf of Trump as his personal attorney, “underscores the need for witnesses and for documents.”
The senior administration official, asked about the prospect of current and former White House aides testifying, including former national security adviser John Bolton, who has said he will comply if subpoenaed by the Senate, said: “We don’t think there’s going to be any need for witnesses.”
Asked if Trump planned on naming House Republicans to his impeachment defense team, the official said, “we’ll be making an announcement about the team at an appropriate time” but repeatedly declined to provide more details.
Trump, on Twitter, continued to denounce the impeachment as a “Con Job” and also made light of the impeachment proceedings during a White House ceremony with the Vice Premier of China, where both signed the first installment of a new trade deal.
“They have a hoax going on over there,” Trump told an audience that included Republican lawmakers and business leaders.
The signing ceremony occurred just before the U.S. House was slated to vote on authorizing the transmittal of the impeachment charges to the Senate, prompting Trump to quip whether or not he should take the time to acknowledge some of the House Republicans on hand for the ceremony.
“Some of the congressmen may have a vote … it's on the impeachment hoax. So, if you want, you go out and vote … I'd rather have you voting than sitting here, listening to me introduce you, OK?” Trump said to laughter from the audience.