McCon­nell, Pelosi dig in on im­passe

Head­way over Trump’s trial not likely be­fore Jan­uary

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By John Wag­ner and Michael Brice-Sad­dler

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.

SAUL LOEB, BREN­DAN SMI­ALOWSKI, NI­CHOLAS KAMM/GETTY-AFP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left, is at odds with Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell over Pres­i­dent Trump’s trial.

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