Trump's Senate impeachment trial: Six hours a day, six days a week -- for six to eight weeks?

That’s not from McConnell and it doesn’t appear to be set in stone, but it’s a noteworthy guesstimate from a top Senate Republican — Richard Burr, chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Why noteworthy? Because while the trial is going on, all members of the Senate must attend and perform their duties as jurors. That means Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, along with the four other Democratic bozos running for president who have no chance at the nomination.

If the House doesn’t wrap up until Christmas, in other words, we could be looking at the two Great Progressive Hopes yanked off the campaign trail all the way through the early primaries. No Bernie on the trail for Iowa. No Warren on the trail for New Hampshire. By the time they’re back in the game, Biden or Pete Buttigieg might have already capitalized by winning IA and NH, effectively ending the presidential chances of Warren and Sanders just as they’re preparing to resume campaigning.

Savor the irony of the left pounding the table for two and a half years for Trump’s impeachment, only to find that having their wish granted meant ruining their hope of winning the presidency themselves.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr predicted the Senate impeachment trial will last for “six to eight weeks.”

Burr added that he doesn’t think much will be learned from the upcoming public hearings this week in front of the House Intelligence Committee since most of transcripts of the testimonies have already been made public…

“The day the [Senate] takes it up, we go into session six days a week from 12:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.,” he said.

McConnell said before that it would last six days a week and would start at 12:30 but he hadn’t said how long testimony each day would last — and he sure didn’t float a two-month time frame. (Clinton’s trial lasted just five weeks.) The opposite, actually: The chatter among Senate Republicans to this point has had to do with the possibility of wrapping the trial early or even refusing to hold a trial. McConnell has said he’s bound by Senate rules to at least begin a trial, but Thom Tillis speculated last month that proceedings could be cut short after a few weeks if a majority concludes that no evidence of an impeachable offense has been produced. Essentially the Senate would move to dismiss the charges and that would be that.

Good luck getting 51 votes for that with Romney, Murkowski, and Collins in the chamber, though. I don’t know how it would work in practice either. The bulk of the trial will involve House Democrats presenting their case; until they rest that case, there’s no way to say that they’ve failed to produce evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor.

Anyway, Democrats are comparing the impeachment calendar with the primary calendar and beginning to sweat:

A third aide to a senator running for president offered some possible strategies. First of all, this person argued, it was useless to predict who would benefit. “It’s going to consume all the political oxygen in the country,” he said. “Anyone who says they know who it is going to help doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It just as easily could help the senators as Mayor Pete or Biden depending on how the senators play it.”

While the senators couldn’t talk during the day, they would almost certainly be a presence on TV as soon as the Senate adjourned in the evening. “All five or six of the senators will be camped out on Rachel Maddow or Chris Hayes or Lawrence O’Donnell,” he said, speaking of the prime-time MSNBC lineup. “You have to think the Democratic primary electorate will be as engrossed in the story and soap opera as everyone else. It will cast a looming shadow over the race in those final months.”

For Sanders and Warren, the common view is that their time would be better spent in Iowa and New Hampshire, rather than Washington. For Booker, Harris, Klobuchar and Bennet, all of whom are in single digits in the polls, impeachment might serve as an arena that could showcase their talents as a senator and shake up the race. “Each of the candidates have qualities that might benefit from impeachment,” said the third aide. “Maybe it’s who can make the case that they are the rule of law candidate? The mood could change in a way that voters suddenly look for new qualities about the candidates. Maybe it helps Pete because he’s fresh and different. Maybe Warren because it focuses attention on her anti-corruption plan. Maybe Kamala or Klobuchar because they were prosecutors. It just gives you a new platform to talk about this stuff and get you in front of a lot of eyeballs.”

Could Warren et al. “camp out” on MSNBC in the evenings after the day’s testimony is over? Some politicos speculated last month that the daily session might end early enough that a dogged candidate might immediately hop on a plane and fly to New Hampshire or South Carolina or (more ambitiously) Iowa for an evening rally before turning around and heading back to Washington for the next day of testimony. That seems less likely if Burr’s right that the hearings will stretch into the early evening. But the MSNBC option also poses a problem: It’s not clear if the gag rule that applies to senators in the chamber, while the trial is in session, also extends to discussing the trial after the session has concluded for the day. The average criminal juror can’t run to the media after daily testimony wraps up to give his or her take on how it went. Why should Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren be allowed to do so with Rachel Maddow?

On the other hand, if Republicans like Lindsey Graham are able to spend months before the trial begins insisting that the evidence against Trump is garbage and that their minds are made up, why shouldn’t Sanders and Warren be allowed to comment while the trial’s going on? An impeachment trial is a hybrid of law and politics, one that involves potentially stripping someone of public office, not of their liberty. There are all sorts of ways in which the rules of impeachment are more … relaxed, shall we say, than the rules of a criminal trial are. No doubt Senate Republicans will line up for an evening guest shot on “Hannity” during the trial to reassure Fox’s audience that this is nothing more or less than a deep-state coup. If they can do that, Democratic senators can go blab to their own friendly media.

Maybe it won’t matter, though. If Warren and Sanders really are laid up in D.C. while Biden and Buttigieg are out on the trail, they might prefer to use their camera time to hammer their stump speech. No one’s voting for either of them over Biden just because they get to cast a vote on Trump’s guilt or innocence. They’re going to need to campaign on TV while the trial is ongoing, and that means using their time to make their respective cases on policy and electability, not how much they hate Trump.

One thing I keep thinking about: Knowing how a lengthy trial might result in a stronger Democratic nominee, McConnell’s probably going to look for ways to truncate it. His calculus is the opposite of Pelosi’s calculus, as I described it last month. Pelosi might want to drag this process out knowing how it’ll complicate life for Warren and Sanders, the two radicals in the field whose single-payer health-care plans will end up as an albatross for House Dem candidates in purple districts if either is the nominee. By dragging out impeachment, Pelosi could damage the two progressives’ chances by ensuring that they’re stuck in D.C. when the early states go to vote. That would create an advantage for Biden (or Buttigieg), exactly the sort of inoffensive centrist whom Pelosi would like to see win the nomination. For McConnell, though, the strategy is precisely the opposite. If you believe Trump would have an easier time against Sanders or (especially) Warren than against Biden, which is what virtually all head-to-head polling shows, then you want Bernie and Liz back on the trail ASAP. Don’t let Biden win the early states! He might quickly prove to be unstoppable and then Trump would suddenly be faced with a very difficult race. Wrap that trial up quickly.

Related exit question: Will Trump even put on a defense at trial? Lots of criminal defendants don’t, preferring to argue to the jury that the prosecution has utterly failed to meet its burden of proof. That’d be an easy claim for Trump to make knowing that the Senate “jury” is rigged in his favor along partisan lines, and it would have the added advantage of returning Sanders and Warren to the campaign before Biden can waltz away with the race. But it would also require Trump to be strategic and to not argue affirmatively on his own behalf, which isn’t very Trump-like. He’s a “counterpuncher,” right? Good luck convincing him not to counterpunch at a trial that the whole country will be watching, even though it’s probably in his interest on balance not to do so.