Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Republican Senators on Wednesday to prepare for an impeachment trial of President Trump as soon as Thanksgiving, according to the Boston Globe.
The announcement comes as House Democrats roll the dice on a second-hand claim from a CIA 'whistleblower' that President Trump pressured Ukraine's president to investigate former VP Joe Biden - who the whistleblower worked for - and Biden's son Hunter, who made $50,000 per month sitting on the board of a Ukrainian gas company his father helped when he pressured Ukraine's president to fire the prosecutor investigating its owner.
During a July 25 phone call, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate a claim that a wealthy Ukrainian individual was involved in the alleged DNC server hack - and that Ukraine 'has the server', as well as corruption claims against the Bidens. While the Democrats are pointing to the request as inviting a foreign country to meddle in the 2020 election, the White House says they want to know what happened in 2016 - and is now claiming that the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in US military aid was linked to the request to investigate election meddling - not the Bidens.
Democrats are also investigating efforts by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, to investigate Ukraine.
And while Trump will almost certainly be impeached by the Democrat-controlled House, the GOP-controlled Senate will be able to pick apart the entire affair.
In their closed-door weekly luncheon, McConnell gave a presentation about the impeachment process and fielded questions alongside his staff and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who was a manager for the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
Impeachment is the first step to remove a president, with the House voting on formal charges and the Senate holding a trial in which it either convicts or acquits him. -Boston Globe
"There’s sort of a planned expectation that it would be sometime around Thanksgiving, so you’d have basically Thanksgiving to Christmas — which would be wonderful because there’s no deadline in the world like the next break to motivate senators," said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) following the meeting.
McConnell has previously said that if the House impeaches Trump, Senate rules would force him to begin a trial - one which could force the Bidens to testify.
Not only could Mr. Biden be forced to be in D.C. at a critical moment in the presidential campaign, but so could many of his chief rivals — the half-dozen senators also vying for Democrats’ presidential nomination, impeachment experts said.
For that matter, if the House chooses to impeach Mr. Trump on charges stemming from the special counsel’s Russia investigation, aides said it could open the door to witnesses such as fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok or even major figures from the Obama administration.
On Wednesday, Michael McKinley - former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - testified that he resigned last week from his post of more than 25 years because he disapproved of using foreign policy to advance political interests.
"‘I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents," said McKinley in his opening statement. "I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on Foreign Service morale and the integrity of our work overseas."
On Thursday White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended withholding military aid to Ukraine unless they investigated 2016 election meddling - and then said this, seemingly referring to McKinley's statement:
After @jonkarl points out the White House's explanation for its dealings with Ukraine was quid-pro-quo, the chief of staff replies: "We do that all that time with foreign policy."— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) October 17, 2019
To those concerned about political influence in foreign policy, he says, "Get over it." pic.twitter.com/AYoTajGLTL
Recall that the Obama administration - with Biden as the 'point man' - had a heavy hand in implementing Ukraine's previous administration - which, as the White House is now arguing, justified withholding aid until they could assess the level of current corruption.