McConnell, Pelosi dig in on impasse
Headway over Trump’s trial not likely before January
WASHINGTON — Both sides dug in Monday in the impasse over a Senate trial of President Donald Trump, with Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell chiding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the delay in transmitting articles of impeachment, a position he called “absurd.”
Pelosi, meanwhile, insisted that before moving forward, Democrats need to know “what sort of trial the Senate will conduct.” Democrats are seeking to use newly released emails showing that the White House put a hold on military aid to Ukraine less than two hours after Trump’s July call with the country’s leader to bolster their case that a Senate trial should include witnesses.
At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
McConnell signaled during a news conference that he doesn’t expect much progress on the impasse over a Senate trial before lawmakers return to Washington after the holidays.
“We’ll find out when we come back in session where we are,” the Senate majority leader told reporters in Louisville.
McConnell referred them to comments he made earlier Monday on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” During that interview, he accused Pelosi of holding “an absurd position.”
When another reporter asked about Pelosi holding onto the articles of impeachment, McConnell said, “As I’ve said repeatedly, we can’t take up a matter we don’t have.”
In the Fox News interview, the
Kentucky Republican also didn’t rule out witnesses for the impeachment trial, noting, “We’ve said let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair.”
That trial featured a 100-0 vote on arrangements that established two weeks of presentations and argument before a partisan tally in which Republicans, who held the majority, called a limited number of witnesses. But Democrats now would need Republican votes to secure witness testimony — and Republicans believe they have the votes to eventually block those requests, which would likely include acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.
The first Senate votes of the new year are scheduled Jan. 6.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pressed his case in a letter to Senate colleagues on Monday that new documentary evidence needs to be part of an impeachment trial.
In his letter, Schumer said that the House had amassed “a tremendous amount of evidence” in support of impeaching Trump but noted that Trump had directed his administration to defy subpoenas for documentary evidence.
Schumer said the documents the Senate should seek fall into three categories: “(1) the effort to induce and pressure Ukraine to announce certain political investigations; (2) the withholding of a White House meeting desperately sought by the newly elected President of Ukraine; and (3) the order to hold, and later release, $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine.”
At least 37 Republican senators are expected to vote against both articles of impeachment against Trump — enough for him to avoid removal from office, according to a Washington Post analysis.
While it was unlikely that the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to convict Trump for abuse of power or for obstruction of Congress, the new tally by The Post means it is mathematically impossible for Trump to be removed from office, assuming the 37 number holds. A two-thirds majority of senators present would have to vote to convict on one or both articles of impeachment to remove Trump from office.
Schumer has criticized McConnell over McConnell’s statement last week that he is “not an impartial juror.” But at least 48 senators have already indicated how they plan to vote on impeachment, including 10 Democratic senators, according to the Post count.
Later Monday, the House said in court filings that more impeachment charges against Trump are possible based on the testimony they are seeking from his former White House counsel Don McGahn.
The committee also said that testimony from McGahn could be useful in any impeachment trial in the Senate.
That assertion was made in response to an argument from attorneys for the Department of Justice that the impeachment vote has undercut the rationale behind the House’s demands.
A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments on Jan. 3 on whether to force McGahn to comply with the subpoena.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, is at odds with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over President Trump’s trial.