(CBS News) — After months of painstaking negotiating internally and externally, President Trump isin a large ceremony at the White House Wednesday. The signing marks a significant achievement for the president, particularly amid his Senate impeachment trial.
Mr. Trump declared the day a day of “celebration” for all three countries, as he looked out on the rows of allied attendees. Republican members of the House and Senate, particularly those who have been the most vocal in defending the president throughout the impeachment process, were seated in the front rows. As the president praised Republicans present, he joked that maybe he’s just being nice to senators because he wants their votes to acquit him in the Senate impeachment trial.
“I want to just if I could mention, because we do have some incredible people that work so hard, and uh, senators. Maybe I’m being just nice to them because I want their vote. Does that make sense?” the president said, to laughter. “I don’t want to leave anybody out. Hey congressman, I already got your vote, 196 to nothing. To hell with you.”
The president also joked that Senator Ted Cruz probably has some interesting questions to ask when senators get their first crack at asking questions Wednesday after days of being forced to listen to both sides silently.
“He’s dying to get back there and ask those questions,” Mr. Trump said of Cruz. “He’s got some beauties, I’ll bet.”
No Democrats were listed on the White House’s list of expected attendees, and it’s unclear whether any were invited.
“Along with members of Congress, state and local leaders, and workers from across the country, including farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs, President Trump will celebrate another promise made, promise kept to the American people when he signs the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). USMCA rebalances trade in North America, replaces the job-killing NAFTA, ends the outsourcing of American jobs, and invest in the American worker,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said.
The president made the announcement outside the White House’s East Wing, separated from reporters and attendees by a driveway, making it tough for reporters to ask any questions.
The signing comes as senators begin asking their questions during the impeachment trial. Senators have 16 hours, which will likely be spread over two days.
The recognition that there could be enough Republican votes to call for witnesses has sent the White House scrambling. A senior administration official involved in impeachment strategy said the White House has always feared four Republicans could break with them, and the White House needs to reduce that number by half.
“We need to chisel four down to two,” the official said. “We are comparing notes with the leader’s office. I would say we are at DEFCON 2.”