President Trump met with some of his most shaky potential impeachment jurors Thursday as he hosted a small group of Republican senators for lunch at the White House and expressed eagerness for the case to move from the House to “our turf.”

The president spoke briefly about impeachment at the start of the private luncheon in the Cabinet Room that included Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, both of whom are viewed as potential votes against Mr. Trump in any Senate trial.

Asked later if she thought the president was trying to influence senators, Mrs. Collins told reporters, “I didn’t get that.”

“It was a very good lunch,” she said. “We spent a lot of time discussing prescription drug prices and vaping. Those were the two major topics.”

Before the lunch, Mr. Trump tweeted about the House impeachment hearings, “We are winning big, and they will soon be on our turf.”

In the Republican-led Senate, a two-thirds majority vote would be needed in a trial to remove the president from office. That means at least 20 of the 53 Republicans would need to vote with the Democrats to convict Mr. Trump.

Mr. Romney, who has clashed openly with the president, said after the lunch that his relationship with Mr. Trump is “friendly and cordial.”

Asked about the president calling him a “pompous ass” in a tweet last month, Mr. Romney laughed and said, “That’s as accurate as it is irrelevant.”

Mr. Romney, Mrs. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the only Republicans who refused to co-sponsor a GOP resolution condemning the House impeachment inquiry. Mrs. Murkowski’s office said she couldn’t attend the White House lunch because she was traveling.

A Democrat running against Mrs. Collins next year, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, sent out a fundraising email Thursday based on the senator’s lunch with the president.

“It’s clear that Collins is just another reliable vote for her party in the Senate — and it’s time to replace her with someone who will stand up for what’s right,” Ms. Gideon said in the email.

Other Republican senators at the White House on Thursday included Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Hoeven of North Dakota, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

It was the fifth meeting that Mr. Trump has hosted for Republican senators since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry in late September. The president has now met with nearly all of the 53 GOP senators.

“Keep fighting tough, Republicans, you are dealing with human scum who have taken Due Process and all of the Republican Party’s rights away from us during the most unfair hearings in American History,” Mr. Trump tweeted earlier Thursday.

The strong possibility of a Senate trial has put some senators in an awkward position as the House proceedings have dragged on. While some of Mr. Trump’s Republican supporters in the Senate already have declared their intention to vote to acquit the president, others say they don’t want to commit to a position before hearing evidence as jurors.

“I’m not going to be speaking about the impeachment at all,” Mr. Romney told reporters shortly before the lunch. “I’ll listen like I listen to the TV, but I’m not going to make any comments.”

Other Republican senators vary on how much attention they have paid to the House hearings.

“I’m working,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, on whether he’s been watching the hearings. “They are going to do what they are going to do. This is, like, year three of this from my perspective. All I hear from my constituents is that nothing is happening because all they are doing is this circus.”

Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he hasn’t heard anything that would change his mind, but added, “I have not been following it closely.”

“We are paying very close attention, of course,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. “I will tell you Tennesseans are just not talking about it, and they continue to support the president.”

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said he is hearing “very little” about impeachment from his constituents.

“When I go home and see people they are worried about everyday life, their economy, their children, their community,” Mr. Shelby said. “It’s a serious thing to overturn an election and that is why in the Federalist Papers, they made it very hard. And no president has ever been convicted.”

Rep. Chris Stewart, Utah Republican and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, called on the Senate on Thursday to “fix” what he called an unfair impeachment process by the Democrats.

“They’re going to impeach the president and they’re going to send it on to the Senate, but that is the good news,” Mr. Stewart said. “We’ll finally be able to get to the truth.”

He urged Senate Republicans to call witnesses who Democrats blocked in the House, such as the anonymous government whistleblower, Hunter Biden and Nellie Ohr, wife of a top Justice Department official who worked for Fusion GPS, the firm hired by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to conduct opposition research against Mr. Trump.

“These proceedings have been anything but fair,” Mr. Stewart said. “The Senate has an opportunity to fix that. I am confident they will, and I look forward to them completing the job that we could have done here.”

• Jeff Mordock contributed to this report.

© Copyright (c) 2019 News World Communications, Inc.


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