(CNSNews.com) - The Democrats have wanted to impeach President Donald Trump for three years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News's Sean Hannity Thursday night.
And if the House ends up approving the two articles of impeachment floated by the House Judiciary Committee -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- that "pretty weak stuff" will come to the Senate.
"We have no choice but to take it up," McConnell said. He said he's working closely with White House lawyers on how to manage the case.
"We will listen to the opening arguments by the House prosecutors. We will listen to the president's lawyers respond. And then we'll have to make a decision about the way forward. And everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can."
Asked if he plans to call witnesses, McConnell again said it's up to the White House:
Well, exactly how we go forward, I'm going to coordinate with the president's lawyers, so there won't be any difference between us on how to do this. You raise the issue of what if you have witnesses. The president's counsel may or may not decide they want to have witnesses. The case is so darn weak coming over from the House. We all know how it's going to end. There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office.
My hope is that there won't be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment. And, Sean, it wouldn't surprise me if we got one or two Democrats. It looks to me over in the House the Republicans seem to be solid and the Democrats seem to be divided.
And while he's working on the process, McConnell said he's fairly certain about the outcome:
"There is a zero chance the president obviously would be removed from office, and I'm hoping we'll have no defections at all."
In fact, far from having Senate Republicans vote for impeachment, McConnell said it may be the other way around:
"It's a political exercise. They've been trying to do this for three years. They finally screwed up their courage to do it. It looks to me like it may be backfiring on them, particularly in swing districts that the Speaker's party managed to win in order to get to the majority. Most of the nervousness I see on this issue with the politicians, since it's a political process, is on the Democratic side."
McConnell said if he has the 51 votes needed to end the trial, "that might be what the president's lawyers would prefer, and you can certainly make the case for making it shorter rather than longer since it's such a weak case."
He said he expects the trial would begin in early January, "and we would stay on it until we finish. And my hope is that it will be a shorter process rather than a long, lengthy process."