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McConnell rips House impeachment as 'slapdash,' 'rushed and rigged'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCan Manchin answer his predecessor's call on voting rights? Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' Democrats' narrow chance to retain control after 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) railed against House Democrats on Thursday after they passed two articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE, arguing the vote was the culmination of a three-year effort to undo the 2016 election.

"Let's be clear: the House's vote yesterday was not some neutral judgment. ... It was the predetermined end of a partisan crusade," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

McConnell knocked the House impeachment effort as "slapdash" and repeatedly called it “the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

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"Now, their slapdash process has concluded in the first purely partisan presidential impeachment since the wake of the civil war," McConnell said, adding that "partisan rage" created a "toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future."

He added that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Tim Cook called Pelosi to say tech antitrust bills were rushed MORE (D-Calif.) had crossed a "rubicon" and that Democrats impeached Trump because they "disagree with a presidential act."

“Speaker Pelosi’s House just gave into a temptation that every other House in our history has managed to resist," McConnell said.

The House late Wednesday passed two articles of impeachment against Trump, making him the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. One charged Trump with abusing power in his dealings with Ukraine and the second with obstructing Congress during its investigation of those actions.

The votes came after a months-long inquiry into whether or not Trump tied aid to Ukraine to Kyiv opening up an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Biden appoints veteran housing, banking regulator as acting FHFA chief Iran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

But McConnell argued on Thursday that the House inquiry was a "rushed and rigged inquiry" compared to previous efforts, and tried to paint the White House stonewalling on handing over Ukraine-related information to the House as a "routine occurrence" between the executive and legislative branches.

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A trial in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, is expected to start in January. Sixty-seven votes would be needed to convict Trump, all but guaranteeing he will ultimately be acquitted.

"If the Senate blesses this historically low bar, we will invite the impeachment of every future president," McConnell said.

McConnell tried to strike a contrast with the House, arguing the Senate's responsibility was to "safeguard institutions from the momentary hysteria that sometimes consume our politics. To keep partisan passions from literally boiling over."

"Moments like this are why the United States Senate exists," McConnell added. "The moment the Framers feared has arrived. A political faction in the lower chamber have succumbed to partisan rage."

McConnell stopped short of directly calling on the Senate to acquit Trump, but stressed that he thought the chamber must "put this right" and "rise to the occasion."

"It could not be clearer which outcome would serve the stabilizing, institution-preserving, fever-breaking role for which the United States Senate was created and which outcome would betray it," McConnell said, concluding his speech. "The Senate's duty is clear. When the time comes, we must fulfill it."

— This report was updated at 10:16 a.m.

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