WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested on Monday that the House impeachment inquiry could last until the end of the year, which would push the start of the Senate process up against the Democratic presidential primary season.
"Well, all I can tell you at this particular point is it looks to me like the House is gonna be on this until Christmas," McConnell told reporters at an event in downtown Louisville.
"Then it comes over to the Senate, it displaces all other business, the Chief Justice of the United States is in the chair, senators are not allowed to speak, they have to sit there and listen, and I'm not sure how long it will go on," he added.
If the House were to wrap up the impeachment inquiry on the timeline McConnell predicted, that the earliest the Senate would begin their trial would be in January, just weeks before the first votes are cast in the 2020 Democratic primary.
McConnell said that he was confident that the Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to impeach President Donald Trump, and suggested that view might influence how long members would want to continue with the trial.
"I can't imagine a scenario under which President Trump would be removed from office with 67 votes in the Senate," he said. "So, I don't know how long Senators will want to continue the trial, but I'm pretty confident at the end, it will not — impeachment will not lead to ouster."
Although the Democratic-controlled House is likely to vote to impeach the president, the Senate must conduct a trial and vote to actually remove Trump from office.
McConnell has previously stated that he plans to hold the Senate trial six days per week, making it virtually impossible for the six senators currently running for president — including top-tier candidates Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — to travel to Iowa in the final days leading up to the caucuses.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has not laid out any similar timeline. "I have no idea," she said on Sunday when asked by CBS "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan if the House investigation would be concluded by the end of the year.