The impeachment trial for President Donald Trump will not last longer than two weeks before he is acquitted, senior Trump administration officials predicted on Wednesday just before the House of Representatives voted to send articles of impeachment to the Senate.
White House officials insist the trial will move quickly and that Trump did nothing wrong when he withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the country’s president to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s potential 2020 rival for the presidency.
“The reason it will not be a very long time is the facts are simple and the facts are on the president’s side,” a senior administration official said on a briefing call with reporters, on condition of anonymity.
The White House also hopes its opposition to the calling of any new witnesses ― which Democrats want after the White House blocked testimony from notable officials during the House’s impeachment inquiry ― would also help lead to a swift conclusion to the trial.
It makes sense that the White House is so bullish about Trump’s prospects in the Senate trial. Nearly all Senate Republicans have echoed the president’s talking points on his actions and impeachment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the House “rushed” Trump’s impeachment with an “incomplete case” due to the Democratic Party’s “partisan rage.” He said that he will not be an “impartial juror” during the trial.
Still, it’s possible four Republicans will choose to side with Democrats and call at least one new witness. That would most likely be former national security adviser John Bolton, who was reportedly opposed to the scheme to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, saying he did not want to be involved in a metaphorical “drug deal” planned by the president’s agents.
Bolton has said he was willing to testify to the Senate. But the president would likely invoke executive privilege to prevent Bolton from divulging any private conversations they had, senior administration officials said.
The House voted to impeach Trump on Dec. 18 on two counts. First, for abusing his authority as president by withholding funds authorized by Congress in order to pressure a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 elections on his behalf. And second, for refusing to comply with subpoenas for documents and witness testimony issued by the impeachment inquiry.
A transcript of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” in opening investigations into Biden and a false conspiracy theory that Ukrainians, not Russians, hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers in 2016. The request for a favor came as Zelensky sought an invitation to the White House.
Trump then asked Zelensky to get in contact with Rudy Giuliani, who was working solely as the president’s personal attorney and not as a representative of the United States.
At the same time, Trump directed the Department of Defense and the State Department to freeze military aid to Ukraine. The president’s allies have argued that the aid was frozen because of Trump’s great concern about corruption in Ukraine. There remains no evidence that the president was concerned about corruption.
A key player in the president’s alleged plot, Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, told the Ukrainians that they would need to announce an investigation into Biden to obtain the military aid and a much-coveted invitation to the White House for Zelensky.
Trump released the aid only after an intelligence community whistleblower filed a complaint that Trump may have broken the law by soliciting a thing of value from Ukraine while placing a hold on the aid.
Later, Trump admitted on the White House lawn that he hoped the phone call resulted in the public announcement of an investigation into Biden. At the same time, he called on the Chinese government to investigate Biden.