President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a secret meeting to discuss bringing the impeachment trial to an end, a new report claims.
CNN's Jim Acosta reported on Twitter that the president and the Senate's top Republican had an unannounced meeting to discuss a process for ending the trial, now that GOP lawmakers voted to block witnesses being called. Over the course of the hearings, Democrats argued that senators needed to hear from top White House officials who had firsthand knowledge of Trump's actions to press Ukraine into digging up dirt on political opponent Joe Biden, but Republicans ultimately quashed the motion.
After Friday's vote to deny witnesses, the Senate approved a resolution that sets the schedule for the trial's conclusion. Trump's legal team and House prosecutors will make closing arguments on Monday, and senators will have the chance to give statements of up to 10 minutes, CNN reported.
The report that Trump met personally with McConnell to discuss ending the trial came after the Senate majority leader had said he planned to work closely with the White House throughout the trial. Last year, as the House was preparing to pass two articles of impeachment, McConnell stirred controversy when he appeared to forgo his duty to serve an impartial juror and said he would be working for Trump's acquittal.
"We don't have the kind of ball control on this that a typical issue, for example, comes over from the House, if I don't like it, we don't take it up," McConnell said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, via USA Today. "We have no choice but to take it up, but we'll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with White House counsel's office and the people who are representing the President in the well of the Senate."McConnell had been able to keep Republicans together through most of the impeachment trial, not allowing enough defections for most Democratic motions to pass, including the critical vote on witnesses.
McConnell was not the only Republican to publicly announce their intention to acquit Trump of the charges. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham also said he had no plans to serve as an impartial juror and would also be working toward clearing the president's name.
The final vote is set to take place early next week, with Trump expected to be acquitted.