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Decision on impeachment trial witnesses should come in second phase - U.S. Republican leader

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. December 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Republican in the U.S. Senate said on Tuesday that any decision on whether to hear from witnesses in an expected impeachment trial of President Donald Trump should follow an opening phase in which the case and defense are presented.

“I’m optimistic that we can agree on phase one,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters. “We’ll see at that point whether there are 51 members of the Senate who want to take one of two directions - either going in the direction of witnesses or going in the direction of voting on the articles of impeachment.”

Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chris Reese