Who would benefit from a speedy Senate impeachment trial?

Image: Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters during a news conference, on Dec. 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill. Copyright Andrew Harnik AP
Copyright Andrew Harnik AP
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a decision to make, NBC's Capitol Hill team writes.

Does he allow President Trump to call witnesses in the impeachment that looks guaranteed to head to the Senate, which would lengthen the duration of the Senate's action?

Or does he keep it short and sweet - and not allow witnesses?

Well, the Washington Post reports that momentum is growing for Option No. 2, the speedy resolution.

"Several GOP senators on Wednesday said it would be better to limit the trial and quickly vote to acquit Trump, rather than engage in what could become a political circus," per the Post.

"The emerging Senate GOP plan would provide sufficient time, possibly two weeks, for both the House impeachment managers and Trump's attorneys to make their arguments before a vote on the president's fate."

You could argue that a speedy Senate trial is the safest strategy for both parties.

For Republicans, it ends the impeachment saga once and for all (assuming there aren't 67 votes for Trump's conviction).

For Democrats, it gets their presidential candidates back on the front burner (more on that below).

But there are two wild cards when impeachment inevitably moves to the Senate.

One is Trump, of course.

And two is the active investigation into Rudy Giuliani and his associates.

"Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas got $1 million from an account in Russia in September, a month before he was charged with conspiring to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, according to U.S. prosecutors who asked a judge to jail him for understating his income and assets," Bloomberg writes.

So just as it looks like we're headed for a speedy Senate trial, this Ukraine story is getting more and more interesting.

Impeachment inquiry update: House Judiciary Committee is set to vote

Beginning at 9:00 am ET today, the House Judiciary Committee continues debating the articles of impeachment against President Trump, NBC's Geoff Bennett notes.

And the committee today is expected to vote on those articles, setting up a vote by the full House sometime next week.

It's Election Day in the U.K.

Millions of voters headed to the polls across the United Kingdom on Thursday for the country's third nationwide general election in less than five years," per NBC News.

"Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party is facing off against the opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, for the keys to 10 Downing St."


More: "British broadcasting rules prevent discussion or analysis of election issues after the polls open at 7 a.m. local (2 a.m. ET). An exit poll produced by three broadcasters is published when voting closes at 10 p.m. local time, and has in recent years provided an accurate prediction of how the parties have fared."

2020 Vision:The impeachment fight has diminished the 2020 Dem field

We always knew that the impeachment of President Trump would put the Democratic presidential campaign on the back burner.

We just never anticipated just how small - and less relevant - it would make the Dems' back-and-forths and the developments on the trail.

Will Joe Biden make a one-term pledge? (He said "no" yesterday.)

Which campaign has been more transparent - Elizabeth Warren's or Pete Buttigieg's?


What about Buttigieg's past work at McKinsey?

Will anyone else qualify for the debate stage for Dec. 19? (The deadline is today.)

Now once impeachment is over, the 2020 Dem field will certainly seem and feel more relevant.

But it's probably not an accident that Joe Biden's frontrunner status over the past month has grown, while Elizabeth Warren's has lessened.

How does a campaign focused on big structural change compete with the impeachment of Donald Trump?


On the campaign trail today

Elizabeth Warren delivers a speech on economic policy in Manchester, N.H…. Andrew Yang remains in Iowa… And Tulsi Gabbard is in South Carolina.

Dispatches from NBC's campaign embeds

Joe Biden released two immigration-focused plans on Wednesday, and spoke to the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas to further distance himself from "deporter in chief" accusations from the left, NBC's Marianna Sotomayor reports: "Biden began his speech passionately defending how immigrants had made America the best country in the world. He reiterated his line that the U.S. has 'been able to cherry pick the best from every continent'—a line that gets criticism from Hispanic activists—but explained what he meant, saying 'You don't leave because you wanna leave, you leave because you have no alternative but also because, because you have to solve, you're optimistic, you're resilient, you know how to fight - not a joke.'"

Pete Buttigieg recently opened up his fundraisers to the press, and at one of them last night he responded to President Trump's comments about him at a recent Pennsylvania rally. From NBC's Priscilla Thompson: "When asked how he would respond to an attack from President Trump, Buttigieg's referenced the president's comments about him at a rally in Pennsylvania last night. 'You can tell he's trying to figure out what to do with me,' Buttigieg said. 'In fact yesterday he said. I'm still trying to get this thought out of my head. He said - he said he dreams about me,' adding, 'I don't know what all goes on in this president dreams, but I know that I want nothing to do with it.'"

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 428


That's the number of pardons and commutations issued by outgoing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin before he left office — including one for a convicted murderer whose family hosted a political fundraiser for Bevin's campaign.


Other beneficiaries included an offender convicted of raping a child.

Bevin's successor, Democrat Andy Beshear, was sworn in on Tuesday.

The Lid: You say potato ...

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at what Republicans and Democrats really think about compromising with each other.

ICYMI: New clips you shouldn't miss

Prosecutorssay that Lev Parnas lied about his assets and should be jailed pending his trial.

OMB says in a legal memo that it withheld aid from Ukraine because it was studying whether the spending complied with U.S. policy.


Here's more on the executive order Trump signed to target anti-semitism on college campuses.

It's Brexit election day.

Trump Agenda: Azar vs. Verma

Trump's top two health officials really, really, really don't get along.

POLITICO writes that Trump's new impeachment strategy is ... mockery.

Which Democrats will be impeachment managers?


Michael Cohen is askingto serve the rest of his prison sentence in home confinement.

2020: Yang's tour through Iowa

Ben Pu reportson Andrew Yang's Iowa bus tour.

The AP looksat the Democratic divide over free college.

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