McConnell knocks call for additional impeachment witnesses

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Meadows: Election will be held on November third Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday knocked talk of calling additional impeachment witnesses, arguing that Democrats want the Senate to go "fishing" during the soon-to-start impeachment trial.

"If the existing case is strong, there's no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation. If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

McConnell's comments come as his caucus is locked in an increasingly public fight over impeachment witnesses.

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A small number have suggested they are open to calling witnesses midtrial, but they're getting public pushback from their conservative colleagues, who warn that if Republicans support calling former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence Senate-passed defense spending bill includes clause giving DHS cyber agency subpoena power Bolton defends Cheney amid clash with House conservatives MORE they also have to support calling witnesses Trump might want such as Hunter Biden or the whistleblower at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.

Democrats are planning to force votes on calling four witnesses, including Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE. They need four GOP senators to successfully call a witness.

McConnell, however, argued on Tuesday that demands for additional witnesses "do not show confidence" in the House case.

"The Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House. If a House majority want to impeach a president, the ball is in their court, but they have to do the work," McConnell added.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMeadows: 'I'm not optimistic there will be a solution in the very near term' on coronavirus package Biden calls on Trump, Congress to enact an emergency housing program Senators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery MORE (D-N.Y.) defended his party's witness request in his own floor speech on Tuesday, arguing that without additional witnesses or documents the trial will be a "sham." During President Clinton's impeachment trial, the Senate voted along party lines to depose three witnesses behind closed doors.

"All we're asking is for the president's own men, his appointees, to come forward and tell their side of the story," Schumer said. "The American people want a fair trial in the Senate. ... The American people will be able to tell the difference between a fair hearing of the facts and a cover up."