McConnell Confirms Impeachment Trial: ‘Senators Won’t Be Allowed to Speak’

Senate Majority leader lays out ground rules
October 16, 2019 Updated: October 16, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that the Senate would hold a trial should the House impeach President Donald Trump, adding that “Senators won’t be allowed to speak” in the process.

“Under the impeachment rules of the Senate, we’ll take the matter up. The chief justice will be in the chair … We intend to do our constitutional responsibility,” he told reporters in Washington.

“We will have to convene every day, six days out of seven, at 12:30 or 1 o’clock in the afternoon,” McConnell told reporters, adding that “Senators won’t be allowed to speak, which will be good therapy for a number of them.”

Previously, McConnell said he would have “no choice” but to carry out an impeachment trial. The Senate needs a more than two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to remove a president from office.

He was asked whether Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was appropriate.

“Look this matter is being looked at in the House,” he added to reporters. “They’re denying due process. … At least it seems to be if they’re going to go forward, providing fundamental fairness and due process is appropriate.”

On Wednesday, meanwhile, he said the Democrats’ impeachment push was unfair and a violation of Trump’s rights, saying that prior impeachment efforts gave the president and his team access to evidence and the power to suggest witnesses.

At the same time, the House has declined to hold a vote to make the impeachment inquiry official. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday announced that the House “will not be having a vote” in the near future.

“Already, House Democrats’ impeachment ‘inquiry’ is violating norms and precedent. They are denying Republicans and President Trump the same rights that Democrats and President Clinton received during those impeachment proceedings,” McConnell tweeted.

He then claimed the “Democrats have been engaged in a three-year-long impeachment parade in search of a rationale. Prominent House Democrats were promising impeachment at the very beginning of this presidency. Fairness and due process are not their objectives here.”

Pelosi last month launched the impeachment inquiry before the White House released a copy of the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky. A plain reading of the transcript shows no obvious evidence of a quid pro quo. Democrats have nonetheless alleged that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure Zelensky. The Ukrainian president has said he didn’t feel pressured on the call with Trump.

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