Schumer says he tried to get McConnell to start impeachment trial talks two weeks ago

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply MORE (D-N.Y.) criticized his GOP counterpart on Monday, saying he asked Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE (R-Ky.) to start negotiations on an impeachment trial two weeks ago, but that McConnell instead went public with his own comments on what such a trial would look like.

"It was very partisan, very slanted, very unfair," Schumer said of the trial outlined by McConnell, who pledged to be in "total coordination" with the White House.

"So to get things back on track, I sent a letter to Leader McConnell last night outlining a very reasonable structure that will result in a fair trial," Schumer said.

He added that he sent the same letter to every senator and that he expected Republicans "would be sympathetic" to the process outlined in the letter because it would pave the way for a "speedy and fair trial."


"In the coming weeks, particularly Republican senators, will have a choice: Do they want a fair honest trial that examines all the facts, or do they want a trial that doesn't let the facts come out?" Schumer asked.

He added that he expects to have support from both Republicans and Democrats "because the argument is so strong."

Schumer wrote in his letter to McConnell that Democrats want to call acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney 'concerned' by Giuliani role in Trump election case On The Money: Senate releases spending bills, setting up talks for December deal | McConnell pushing for 'highly targeted' COVID deal | CFPB vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency Consumer bureau vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency MORE, his senior adviser Robert Blair, former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' MORE and Office of Management and Budget staffer Michael Duffey to testify as part of a Senate trial.

"We believe all of this should be considered in one resolution. The issue of witnesses and documents, which are the most important issues facing us, should be decided before we move forward with any part of the trial," Schumer wrote in his letter.

During the impeachment trial of former President Clinton, senators voted 100-0 on a resolution laying out the process for a trial, but a vote on a subsequent resolution calling for specific witnesses broke down along party lines.


GOP leadership has suggested they want to take a similar tactic by punting on witnesses and keep it separate from an initial resolution on the procedure for a Senate trial.

Pressed if Democrats were willing to accept closed-door taped depositions, similar to witnesses during the Clinton trial, Schumer demurred but noted that he believes "live testimony is the best way to go."

He also declined to say if Democrats would be willing to accept controversial witnesses from Republicans as part of the negotiation. Instead, he stressed that the onus is on McConnell and Republicans to agree to a "fair" hearing.

“If Leader McConnell doesn’t hold a full and fair trial the American people will rightly ask what are you, Leader McConnell, and what is President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE hiding?” Schumer asked.