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McConnell talks with reporters on Monday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he'll move ahead on approving rules for President Trump's Senate trial without negotiating them with Democrats.

Between the lines: Senate Republicans' comments on Tuesday suggested that they've fallen in line with McConnell's position that the rules should be based on Bill Clinton's 1999 Senate trial, where the question of whether to call witnesses was postponed until after the start of the trial.

  • Many of these senators have said they're comfortable following the precedent of the Clinton trial, in which senators first gave their opening statements and submitted their questions to the chief justice of the Supreme Court before formally calling witnesses. 

McConnell's move, first reported by Politico, suggests that key GOP senators are not eager to join Democrats' demands to immediately call witnesses — including subpoenaing former national security adviser John Bolton — and request new documents at the onset of a Senate trial. 

What they're saying: Even Sen. Mitt Romney, who has been the most forthright in stating he wants to hear from Bolton, said he is “comfortable” with following the Clinton precedent. However, he distinguished that he is only comfortable with it because it still provides a pathway to hear from witnesses.

  • “I think the Clinton impeachment process provides a pathway for witnesses to be heard, so I’m comfortable with that process,” Romney told reporters Tuesday.
  • Other Republicans agreed. "What I want to do is what we did in the Clinton [trial]. I want to hear from the prosecution, I want to hear from the defense, and then make up our mind on that," said Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Yes, but: Some Democrats rightly point out that it’s not fair to compare the current impeachment battle to Clinton’s, as the universe of witnesses in the 1999 trial was much more defined. 

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must also transmit the articles of impeachment — which she has thus far withheld — in order for the Senate trial to begin.

What to watch: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that Pelosi had been waiting to send the articles until she knew what the Senate trial would look like, and that it's now beginning to take shape.

Go deeper: Key GOP senators don't want to subpoena Bolton

Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.

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