(AP) - Congress opened Friday for the new year with President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial set to consume the Senate agenda, but the trial is in flux amid the Middle East crisis.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the trial should begin and then senators will decide the scope. He is indicating he has little interest in hearing from witnesses.
McConnell criticized Democrats as having engineered a “slapdash” impeachment that he called the “most rushed, least fair” in history.
McConnell is hoping for a speedy acquittal of the president, but the trial cannot begin until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends over the articles of impeachment. Pelosi is refusing to do so until Republicans provide details on the trial.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said senators need to hear the "whole truth” as they weigh Trump’s removal from office.
Also, a federal judge says an associate of Rudy Giuliani facing campaign finance charges may turn over documents to Congress as part of the impeachment proceeding.
Lev Parnas wants to turn over to the House intelligence committee data seized by the government when Parnas was arrested in October.
Parnas and another man, Igor Fruman, played key roles in the efforts of Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The records include documents seized from Parnas’ home and the contents of one of his iPhones.
Federal appellate judges are wrestling with whether courts should be refereeing a dispute between the House of Representatives and the Trump administration over the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments Friday over the House Judiciary Committee’s effort to compel McGahn’s testimony.
Democrats subpoenaed McGahn well before the start this fall of an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The Trump administration appealed after a trial judge ruled for House Democrats. The Justice Department says there’s no reason for judges to become involved in a political dispute.