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McConnell takes round one in impeachment battle

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (R-Ky.) has won round one of the Senate impeachment fight, announcing Tuesday that he has the votes to adopt rules that do not require additional witnesses and key documents despite the strong objections of Democrats.

McConnell did not lose support from a single member of his conference in the standoff with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.), who has warned that GOP senators would be “participating in a cover-up” if they don’t vote for subpoenas of key Trump advisers such as former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonDefense policy bill would create new cyber czar position Pressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday MORE at the trial’s outset.

Now the pressure is on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (D-Calif.) to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, even though there isn’t a bipartisan deal on how to proceed.

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“We have the votes,” McConnell told reporters triumphantly after meeting with Republican colleagues over lunch.

The GOP leader spent part of the holiday recess reaching out to colleagues to talk to them about the upcoming impeachment trial, according to GOP senators.

His strategy was to build a unified Republican front to withstand Democratic demands that the organizing resolution for Trump’s trial guarantee that Bolton and three other witnesses — 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, White House adviser Robert Blair and senior Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey — testify.

His three toughest challenges lay with moderate Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him GOP blocks effort to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks MORE (R-Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return MORE (R-Alaska) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him WaPo reporter says GOP has less incentive to go big on COVID-19 relief COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks MORE (R-Utah), who have criticized Trump’s conduct in recent months to varying degrees.

All three moderates said Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning that it would be appropriate to pass an organizing resolution along the lines of what the Senate adopted 100-0 at the start of former President Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial.

McConnell told colleagues at lunch Tuesday that he had the votes to roll Democrats on an impeachment resolution.

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He later said it was “impossible” to pick up Democratic support for an organizing resolution because “they refused to treat President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE the same way we treated President Clinton.”

“What was good enough for President Clinton at an impeachment trial should have been good enough for President Trump,” he added. “All we’re doing here is saying we’re going to get started in exactly the same way that 100 senators agreed to 20 years ago.”

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that Republicans will pass an organizing resolution “very similar” to what started the Clinton trial but declined to provide further details.

The Clinton resolution made it in order to consider and debate a motion to dismiss the articles of impeachment as well as motions to subpoena witnesses and present additional evidence.

“It may not be word-for-word exactly the same,” McConnell acknowledged Tuesday.

Schumer responded by vowing to make GOP senators pay a price by forcing them to vote on the question of witnesses and additional evidence when they debate the first organizing resolution.

He said he would raise the issue of subpoenas again later in the trial.

“The question looms: Will senators stand up for a fair trial, a fair trial with witnesses and documents?” Schumer said after meeting with colleagues at lunch. “Whoever heard of a trial without witnesses and documents?”

Schumer said that while McConnell has stayed in lockstep with the president, “many of his colleagues are very, very worried about going home and saying they’re not for witnesses and documents.”

Democratic pollster Geoff Garin on Tuesday released polling showing that 67 percent of voters in six Senate battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina — say they want the Senate to conduct a full trial and carefully consider the evidence on both sides.

The Democratic leader said he would insist on voting to subpoena Bolton, Mulvaney, Blair and Duffey as well as several sets of documents.

“We will have the ability at the beginning of the trial, and as we go through it, to get votes and we’re going to get them,” Schumer said.

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Schumer said he had asked McConnell three separate times to allow witnesses and additional documents at the trial and received rejections all three times.

“McConnell will not allow any votes,” Schumer said. “I’ve asked him, ‘What about witnesses and documents?’ He’s rejected it.”

McConnell’s ability to unify his conference now puts the ball in Pelosi’s court. She said last month that she did not want to name impeachment managers until she knew the rules of the Senate trial.

There are signs that some Democrats are growing impatient to begin the trial now that the rules for its start have at least 51 votes.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who faces a tough reelection this year in a pro-Trump state, said Tuesday that he hopes the impeachment articles will come to the Senate soon and that his colleagues are ready to hear arguments from both sides.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinCongress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (Ill.), who privately warned colleagues last month against playing games with the articles of impeachment, said he thinks Pelosi will move soon.

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“I can’t tell you what her timetable will be. I think the House is returning this afternoon, I hope she’ll consider it this week,” he said.

Republicans say Pelosi no longer has a reason to delay the trial.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBiden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country The Memo: Harris moves signal broad role as VP Former US attorney asks for probe of allegations Graham pressured Georgia official MORE (R-S.C.) circulated a resolution at the Senate GOP Tuesday lunch urging Pelosi to send over the articles of impeachment.

“What she’s doing is out of step with past precedent and an affront to the Senate,” Graham said. “It’s not her job to set the trial.”

Graham said that most GOP senators view Pelosi’s decision to delay the articles as a “political stunt.”

But Democrats say Pelosi’s stratagem has already paid political dividends.

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“She’s already accomplished two things which we fully support. One, Mitch McConnell couldn’t do what some thought he might want to do: right before Christmas or right after Christmas, [vote] to dismiss [the articles of impeachment],” Schumer said.

He said holding the articles of impeachment has allowed key developments to put more pressure on Republican swing votes.

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOn The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser GOP blocks effort to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers Democratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry MORE (D-Md.) said Pelosi has put a public spotlight on McConnell in a way that will help Democrats.

“Sen. McConnell would have proceeded directly into the trial. We would not be having this conversation about the importance of calling witnesses and documents,” he said.

Jordain Carney contributed.