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McConnell: Senate trial should not include witnesses

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the looming Senate impeachment trial should not include witnesses, pushing back on a request by his Democratic counterpart in the upper chamber.

McConnell, during a radio interview with The Brian Kilmeade Show, warned that calling witnesses as part of the trial would pave the way for a "kind of mutual assured distraction," because both sides might try to call witnesses considered anathema to the other party.

"I think we've heard enough. After we've heard the arguments, we ought to vote and move on," McConnell said.

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McConnell also sent a warning shot to Democrats, predicting that if they try call witnesses Republicans would "want the whistleblower; we're going to want Hunter Biden."

At the heart of the impeachment inquiry is President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE's conduct towards Ukraine, including pressing for investigations into a Ukrainian energy company that employed Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE, Trump's political rival.

"You can see here that this would be a kind of mutual assured destruction episode, that would go on for a long time. ... The president's not going to be removed from office. The only issue is how long do we want to take to get the final decision. I think that we've heard enough. we're going to listen to arguments, but my view is it's time to vote and move on," McConnell added.

McConnell's radio interview comes as he went to the Senate floor on Tuesday and rejected Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor MORE's (D-N.Y.) initial proposal on rules for the trial.

Democrats asked to call four witnesses, including acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE, and want one resolution that would cover both the trial process and specific witnesses.

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McConnell stopped short, during his floor speech, of specifically saying he did not want further witnesses, but indicated that the decision should be made later.

"The basic procedural framework of the Clinton impeachment trial served the Senate and the nation well, in my view," McConnell said during his floor speech. "I still believe the Senate should try to follow the 1999 model."

During former President Clinton's impeachment trial, 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.