The latest on Biden's inauguration and security threats

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 9:56 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021
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1:30 p.m. ET, January 15, 2021

These are the key signals and senators to watch for as the impeachment trial looms

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) displays a signed article of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. 
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) displays a signed article of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on January 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The House and Senate are gone and attention is on President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week. But be on the lookout for any signals that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are having conversations about impeachment.

One of the key dynamics that will govern whether senators push forward with an impeachment trial at the beginning of President-elect Joe Biden's presidency or whether they wait is going to be whether Republicans agree to allow some of Biden's nominees to move quickly through their confirmation processes in the mornings before the trial. Multiple sources have told CNN that there isn't a clear signal yet whether Republicans would allow the kind of dual-tracking Senate trial that Biden has suggested he'd like to see.

Also, keep your eye on the statements coming from Republican senators: Over the next several days, some Republicans senators will make it very clear where they stand on impeachment. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both Republicans from South Carolina, have done that. And Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, said that after Trump leaves office, "the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former President."

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio who is up for reelection in 2022, said his decision with be based off of not only the evidence he hears, but "among my considerations will be what is best to help heal our country rather than deepen our divisions."

Republicans must have 17 members vote "yes" to convict Trump in the Senate. All eyes have been on what McConnell decides. Multiple GOP aides have told CNN that McConnell's decision will certainly have an impact on the conference. But, it's also important to remember that while McConnell has a lot of influence, he's not going to be whipping members on a vote like this. And, for members in states where Trump is popular, McConnell's vote may not sway them at all.

That doesn't mean members are not obsessing about where McConnell falls on this. In fact, multiple Republican members and aides CNN has spoken to in recent days have wondered why McConnell has stayed as quiet as he has. Members are asking each other what their leader is thinking.

CNN asked a series of Republican senators if they'd heard from McConnell in recent days on this topic and aside from the conference-wide note he sent on Wednesday, all of the members and aides said McConnell has been giving members their space to think through this on their own.