White House and Republicans say they want full Senate trial

White House and Republicans say they want full Senate trial

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Several White House officials and Republicans agreed Thursday that the Senate should hold a full trial if President Trump is impeached by the House, an idea which Trump himself reiterated Friday morning on Fox & Friends.

Testing Senate waters: President Trump's aides, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, met with a Senate delegation on Thursday to discuss a strategy for a possible impeachment trial. Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), John Kennedy (R-LA) Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were in attendance, according to the Washington Post.

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Graham said he wants "to try to follow the Clinton model as much as possible."

Senate will take impeachment seriously: One attendee told Politico both the officials and the Senators decided “they want some kind of factual affirmative defense on the merits" and to do that, they shouldn't drop the case before hearing it, which the Senate can do with 51 votes. There are currently 53 Republicans in Senate.

“I don’t want them to believe there’s an ability to dismiss the case before it’s heard. I think most everybody agreed there’s not 51 votes to dismiss it before the managers get to call their case ... “The best thing for the country is to get this done quickly, but it’s got to be done in a way that is acceptable to the body,” Graham said.

“Different people have different opinions of what to do but the main message [is] that a motion to dismiss won’t fly. They understand it because we’re hitting the House on a lack of due process. Most trials you at least hear the evidence first," another attendee said.

Overall, they didn't go into detail at the meeting, in which one White House officials said "it was about the Democrats' weak case and we want to show just how weak it is."

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The president, too, told “Fox & Friends” in an interview: "Frankly, I want a trial." He explained that this would allow lawmakers to call other witnesses for questioning, including former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden.

“There’s only one person I want more than 'Where’s Hunter?' and that is Adam Schiff,” he said."I want to see Adam Schiff testify about the whistleblower ... I want the whistleblower, who put in a false report, to testify,”

Meanwhile, President Trump met with a group of GOP Senators on Thursday, including two of his vocal critics Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), in what some describe as an effort to court them ahead of an impeachment vote and a possible Senate trial.

The meeting touched on several issues, including impeachment, but those who attended it said the discussion about the ongoing inquiry into the president was "brief." He noted it has been challenging to defend himself in impeachment proceedings that are largely controlled by Democrats and spoke and laid out his opinions about it.

“He’s understandably unable to defend himself. He feels that whatever’s come forward has been exactly what he says, useless,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) who described the lunch as "good."

They devoted the majority of their time talking about a bill to lower prescription drug costs, a vaping crackdown, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal, and expanding the KIDS Act to protect children from being sold, topics that the GOP Senators wanted to go into.

What did his Republican critics say? Romney, who noted before the meeting he was surprised to receive an invitation, said the lunch was "delightful" and that he took the occasion to discuss prescription drug costs and vaping products.

“I expressed my point of view, which is that I thought there is a great deal of support for removing the candy flavors. I would hope the FDA would take action without having to wait for Congress because Congress is slower in terms of process and a lot of kids are getting addicted to these products," Romney explained. In response to the president calling him a was “pompous ass who has been fighting me from the beginning," he said the description was as"accurate as it is irrelevant," adding: “We’re friendly and cordial.”

He, along with Collins, are two of the three Senate Republicans who refused to sign a GOP resolution denouncing the impeachment inquiry. Their move prompted concerns about how they will vote in a Senate trial.

Collins said the president didn't talk much about the impeachment inquiry and that “the vast majority of the discussion was on prescription drugs and vaping.” When asked whether the president was cozying them, she said she "didn't get that sense."

Others who were present at the meeting were Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Rand Paul (R-KY). “We work together necessarily to pass legislation, so I don’t think getting together and having conversations about issues is anything wrong. I think senators will do their duty as they see it, regardless of a free lunch," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

Worth noting: President Trump has recently lunched with other groups of Senate Republicans as well.

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