Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on Democratic senators and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to stop pretending to be impartial amid an impasse on impeachment.
In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” McConnell criticized the idea that 2020 presidential candidates and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) aren’t biased.
“Do you think Chuck Schumer is impartial? Do you think Elizabeth Warren is impartial? Bernie Sanders is impartial? So let’s quit the charade. This is a political exercise. … All I’m asking of Schumer is that we treat Trump the same way we treated Clinton,” McConnell told the broadcaster on Monday morning.
“[Pelosi] apparently believes that she can tell us how to run the trial,” he added, referring to Pelosi’s move to hold two articles of impeachment that were passed on Dec. 18 by the House, accusing President Donald Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
“Look, we’re at an impasse. We can’t do anything until the speaker sends the papers over, so everybody enjoy the holidays,” he added.
Pelosi, in several press conferences last week, said she would delay sending the impeachment articles to the Senate and would delay calling House managers until her caucus knows how the Senate will respond.
“We don’t know the arena that we’re in. Frankly, I don’t care what the Republicans say,” Pelosi said Thursday. “We would hope there would be a fair process just as I hope they would honor the Constitution.”
On Monday morning, Pelosi again wouldn’t commit to sending managers.
“The House cannot choose our impeachment managers until we know what sort of trial the Senate will conduct,” she wrote on Twitter. “President Trump blocked his own witnesses and documents from the House, and from the American people, on phony complaints about the House process. What is his excuse now?”
The tactic has drawn criticism from the White House and Republicans, who said she is stalling on sending the articles for political purposes—especially after Pelosi and other top Democrats in the House insisted that the impeachment inquiry should be done in a hasty manner.
Over the weekend, New York Times columnist David Brooks questioned the strategy, telling PBS that it’s “very risky” and “not a very powerful message.”
“I think it delays what eventually will be a trial, pushing it, frankly, back into primary season. And it looks—makes it look a little more political,” Brooks concluded.
Meanwhile, the move triggered debate among legal experts. Impeachment witness and Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman wrote that Trump hasn’t actually been impeached.
If the House doesn’t send the articles, Trump could argue “with strong justification that he was never actually impeached. And that’s probably not the message Congressional Democrats are hoping to send,” he wrote last week.