Republicans weigh aggressive impeachment trial schedule

In their partisan opening resolution, Republicans are considering providing 24 hours of opening arguments to both the House impeachment managers and the White House counsel. If each team wants to use the full amount of hours, they may have to do so over as few as two days, potentially leading to long trial days.

The current “posture is two, 12-hour periods. Quite honestly, I don’t believe that the White House would consume the 24 hours nor do I think based on the evidence if we read the evidence word for word from the House it would take 24 hours,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Friday.

Tillis said he’s “interested to see whether or not that gets elongated over a few days.” But simply the threat of long workdays could condense those opening stages; during Clinton’s trial not all debate time was used.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated to the White House he wants to use this structure, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Nothing has been firmly decided, and the resolution is still being written. And the fact that the GOP is still debating the logistics of the trial demonstrate how delicate the issue is, and how few people are clued into what McConnell has in store for the Senate over the coming days.

McConnell’s office declined to comment.

In consultation with party leaders, a majority of the Senate is expected to decide when to shut down the Senate for the day — and how debate time is dispensed. And some Republicans may blanch at any indication the trial is being rushed.

Then, the question and answer period could total 16 hours over as few as two days. In the most aggressive timetable described by some Republicans, a vote on witnesses could be held after just six days of arguments and questions. Or senators could decide moving things too quickly is a mistake and dial back the aggressive timeline and avoid the possibility of holding an impeachment trial late into the night.