The White House signaled Wednesday the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump would not last longer than two weeks, suggesting the Senate would move quickly to try the case.
“I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that we’d be going beyond two weeks,” a senior White House official told reporters in a phone briefing. “We think that this case is overwhelming for the president, and the Senate is not going to have any need to be taking that amount of time on this.”
President Trump has already accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to deliver a State of the Union address on February 4, 2020. The Senate impeachment trial is expected to begin on January 21.
The White House criticized House Democrats for delaying the transfer of articles to the Senate, despite expressing urgency during the impeachment process and saying the trial should move quickly.
“These are the weakest articles of impeachment that have ever been passed in any presidential impeachment,” the official stated. “They state no violation of a crime, no violation of any law.”
The official also defended the idea of the right to dismiss the impeachment case outright, a proposal that Senate Republicans have not supported.
“Why would there be a motion to dismiss?” he asked. “That’s because these articles of impeachment are so weak that, on their face, if this were a court proceeding, they’d be subject to dismissal.”
The White House left open the possibility of the Senate opening the trial to further witnesses, but said if Democrats were allowed to call new witnesses to the case, Republicans and the president would call additional witnesses as well.
“We’re prepared for all possibilities,” the official said.
The official ridiculed the idea of Democrats demanding further witnesses, arguing the Senate trial should not be a “do-over” for House Democrats.
“They’re supposed to do their preparation and come ready to present a case,” he said. “If they’re not able to do that, then what should happen is, the president should be acquitted.”