McConnell: Holding articles of impeachment gives Pelosi no leverage
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) strategy of holding articles of impeachment in the House rather than sending them to the upper chamber won’t put any pressure on him to agree to a rules package for the Senate trial.
“It’s beyond me how the Speaker and Democratic leader in the Senate think withholding the articles of impeachment and not sending them over gives them leverage,” McConnell told reporters after criticizing the House impeachment effort in a lengthy floor speech.
“Frankly, I’m not anxious to have the trial. If she thinks her case is so weak she doesn’t want to send it over, throw me into that briar patch,” McConnell added.
McConnell panned the House Democratic investigation of President Trump as “by far the thinnest basis for any House-passed presidential impeachment in American history.”
He also mocked House Democrats as being afraid to submit their two articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“The prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second-guessing whether they even want to go to trial,” he said. “They said impeachment was so urgent that it could not even wait for due process but now they’re content to sit on their hands. It is comical.”
McConnell has all but guaranteed Trump’s acquittal on the Senate floor, telling reporters earlier this week, “I would anticipate an almost partisan outcome in the Senate.”
The GOP leader and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) are expected to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss the rules of the trial.
McConnell has said he is only willing to agree to a resolution that would set up how much time the House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team have to present their cases on the Senate floor, and how much time senators have to submit written questions to the presiding officer, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
He has ruled out an agreement that would include the possibility of additional witnesses and documentary evidence are subpoenaed.
“I’m optimistic that we can agree on Phase One. It’s pretty obvious we’re likely to disagree on Phase Two and we’ll see at that point whether there are 51 members of the Senate who want to take one of two directions, either going in the direction of witnesses or going in the direction of voting on articles of impeachment,” McConnell said Tuesday.
Schumer on Thursday said calling key witnesses such as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and reviewing additional documents are essential to having a fair trial.
“We want a fair trial. A fair trial, to my way of thinking, involves witnesses and documents. You don’t have trials without them,” he said.