Heard in the Halls: Impeachment Trial Scenes

As President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial unfolds, Courthouse News will be gathering interviews with senators, members of Congress, attorneys and other newsmakers in the corridors of the Capitol for this regular feature.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The end of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is in sight. Potentially. Maybe. Depending on who you ask.

Speaking to reporters at the end of a two-day question-and-answer period, lawmakers weighed in on key unresolved issues, including whether the Senate will hear additional witness testimony and the role of Chief Justice John Roberts in the proceedings.

7:29 p.m. Senator John Thune, R-S.D., exiting the GOP dinner 

When asked by reporters if he is meeting with Senators Lamar Alexander or Mitt Romney, the Republican whip evaded the question. 

“There have been numerous discussions and conversations among our members. We’re trying to make sure everybody gets to a comfortable place. And hopefully that will happen soon.”

7:14 p.m., Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., outside the Senate floor in a reporter pen 

When asked about the appropriateness of a question from Rand Paul, R-Ky., which related to the whistleblower and was later denied by Chief Justice John Roberts, Johnson said he felt Roberts made the right decision by not reading it. 

“And then I had my own question that Adam Schiff refused to answer. Again, there’s some real legitimate questions outstanding about the whole process and the whole investigation and, you know, House managers won’t answer them. We’ll keep asking them.”

6:49 p.m., Representative Mark Meadows, R-N.C., to Cameras in the Senate Subway

Looking beyond the impeachment trial Meadows said a decision to acquit the president would reverberate for Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is seen as a possible wild card in the decisive vote on whether to convict or acquit Trump. Manchin’s state backed Trump by a 42-point margin in 2016. 

“It would be very difficult, I think, for him, to vote for a guilty verdict and be able to explain that to the overwhelming supporters that the president has in West Virginia. The fact is, is that guilty verdict would be telling every one of those Trump voters in West Virginia that perhaps they made the wrong choice in 2016. But that’s something that Senator Manchin going to have to calculate on his own and certainly as he’s looked and evaluated. He’s a thoughtful senator and certainly one of the few that I would view as a possibility of coming across for a bipartisan acquittal.”

Senator John Cornyn (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

11:56 a.m., Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the Senate Subway
When asked how the end of Trump’s impeachment trial will affect GOP support for investigations of the Bidens, Cornyn demurred on the interest in launching new probes. 

“I think an election is the best way to handle that,” Cornyn said.

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11:40 a.m., Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate Subway
A longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leahy voted to confirm Roberts to the Supreme Court back in 2005. The Vermont Democrat weighed in on whether Roberts should break a potential tie on a vote to call new witnesses in Trump’s trial.

“I would prefer that, and I would accept whichever way he went. Whether it was in my position or others. But that’s up to the chief justice. I have a lot of respect for him and the way he’s been handling this.”

Leahy said there is precedent from past presidential impeachments of the chief justice breaking tie votes, and is confident Roberts is familiar with it as well. 

“I’m sure, knowing Chief Justice Roberts as well as I do — I’ve known him for years — he’s read that history more than any of us.”

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This story is developing…

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