McConnell: Senate trial should not include witnesses
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (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.
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 Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine, including pressing for investigations into a Ukrainian energy company that employed Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, 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 Schumer’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 Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, and want one resolution that would cover both the trial process and specific witnesses.
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.