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Trump stands with McConnell during a campaign rally Lexington, Kentucky, Nov. 4. Photo: Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)

The Senate trial is poised to be short — perhaps two weeks — and to involve no new witnesses, and Trump has largely come around on this plan, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: That would represent a significant evolution in the president’s posture, after a flurry of private and public urging by McConnell and Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham. Sources caution that nothing has been decided yet.

  • McConnell has said publicly that he would be surprised if there are 67 votes to convict Trump. Privately, he has signaled even greater confidence of acquittal, according to a Republican senator.
  • McConnell has also indicated he sees nothing but political downside in the futile exercise of calling up controversial witnesses and drawing out a messy Senate show trial.
  • Besides, all witnesses need 51 votes in the Senate, and it's highly unlikely that moderate Republicans will cater to Trump's desires to call up witnesses like Adam Schiff and Hunter Biden.

The backstory: Initially, POTUS "genuinely wanted a long trial with all the witnesses to push back," said a source who's discussed the matter with Trump.

  • "But now he thinks we're winning," the source said. "He's been talked into being a lot more comfortable with what the Senate wanted all along, which is a short trial and no witnesses."
  • A second source familiar with the discussions added: "As far as length of time, it really depends on how long the Senate gives the House to present. Remember, it's a presentation now. ... The [House] managers will be the witnesses."

Between the lines: Sources familiar with the internal discussions say they expect White House counsel Pat Cipollone to lead Trump's defense in the Senate, but they caution that the president hasn't made his final call on the composition of his legal team.

  • "This is going to be a White House counsel-led hearing because the two counts are all official acts," said a source familiar with the discussions.
  • "It's the flip side" of the Bill Clinton impeachment, the source added. "Clinton was private matters and therefore his personal lawyers took the lead. But I will say it's also very fluid. Who is going to be the presenting team is a work in progress. ... Things can change."
  • "I think this gets figured out this week," the source added.

Go deeper: Schumer's opening pitch for the Senate impeachment trial

Go deeper

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on conspiracy theories about election fraud, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

Dave Lawler, author of World
32 mins ago - World

Assassination in Iran sets stage for tense final 50 days of Trump

The funeral ceremony in Tehran. Photo: Iranian Defense Ministry via Getty

Iranian leaders are weighing their response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known as the father of Iran’s military nuclear program, who was given a state funeral Monday in Tehran.

The big picture: Iran has accused Israel of carrying out Friday’s attack, but senior leaders have suggested that they’ll choose patience over an immediate escalation that could play into the hands of the Israelis and the outgoing Trump administration.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  3. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators seeks stimulus dealChuck Grassley returns to Senate after recovering from COVID-19.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. Economy: Wall Street wonders how bad economy has to get for Congress to act.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.