WASHINGTON – A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, including rapid proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks, according to multiple officials familiar with the talks.
The prospect of an abbreviated trial is viewed by several Senate Republicans as a favorable middle ground – substantial enough to give the proceedings credence without risking greater damage to Trump by dragging on too long.
Under this scenario, described by officials who spoke anonymously to describe a private meeting, the Senate trial could begin as early as January if the Democratic-controlled House votes to impeach Trump next month as appears increasingly likely. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said earlier this month that Trump would be acquitted in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-seat majority.
Even an accelerated two-week trial could run counter to what Trump has expressed privately. The president is “miserable” about the ongoing impeachment inquiry and has pushed to dismiss the proceedings right away, according to people familiar with Trump’s sentiments, who requested anonymity to discuss the president’s views.
Still, administration officials are readying all options to present them to Trump, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone is preparing to mount a full defense of the president for an impeachment trial, according to one of the officials familiar with Thursday’s meeting.
“I don’t want them to believe there’s an ability to dismiss the case before it’s heard,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who was among the group of half-dozen GOP senators who met Thursday with White House officials to begin mapping out a trial strategy. “I think most everybody agreed, there’s…