McConnell tells GOP senators impeachment trial could start next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Republican senators during the party’s weekly lunch meeting Thursday that he expects House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to transmit the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the chamber as soon as Friday, meaning a trial could begin early next week, Fox News has confirmed.

McConnell, R-Ky., was not relying on inside information, Fox News was told, but was looking to give scheduling guidance to senators before they left town for the weekend. Politico first reported McConnell’s comments.

PRESSURE MOUNTS ON PELOSI TO TRANSMIT IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES, AS DEMS LOSE PATIENCE

Pressed by reporters at the Capitol, McConnell said of the impeachment articles, “I have no idea when they’re gonna come over.” But he added, “Let me just say that I sure hope so. We’ve been waiting three weeks and would love to have the opportunity to get started.”

The guidance comes as Pelosi, D-Calif., is facing rising pressure to transmit the articles of impeachment, with members of her own party signaling that they are losing patience with her delay. Pelosi continues to indicate to Democratic colleagues that she plans to hold onto the articles, at least until McConnell releases a resolution outlining the terms for a Senate trial.

In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham introduced a resolution Thursday demanding Pelosi immediately transmit the articles of impeachment against Trump.

“This resolution is a simple statement by the Senate. It is our job as senators to dispose of the articles that were lawfully passed,” Graham said. “The speaker’s attempt to shape or delay the trial is unprecedented. It cannot stand.”

McConnell on Thursday also signed on to Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley’s resolution to dismiss the articles because of a failure to prosecute.

Pelosi has said she won't hold the articles indefinitely and suggested she could send them soon.

Pelosi has held onto the articles since last month in a bid to extract favorable terms for a trial, likely including a commitment to call certain Democrat-sought witnesses, and at least learn more about McConnell's plans.

"We need to see the arena in which we are sending our [impeachment] managers. Is that too much to ask?" Pelosi said Thursday, adding that she first wants to know the "terms of engagement" for a Senate trial and voiced concern that senators won't be impartial.

But the GOP leader insists that the Senate should first launch the trial, and then resolve issues surrounding witnesses later, declaring he will not haggle with Pelosi and accusing her Thursday of playing "irresponsible games."

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McConnell has said the Senate will move on to other issues next week if Pelosi doesn't transmit the articles.

Fox News’ Jason Donner and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.