McConnell criticized House Democrats for their treatment of the impeachment inquiry, claiming they developed “cold feet” after the partisan vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
“By spring, Speaker Pelosi told the country ‘Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” he said, speaking on the Senate floor in Washington. “That was the speaker less than a year ago.”
He also referenced comments House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) made during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, when Nadler said an impeachment push shouldn’t be favored by only one party.
“Democrats have let Trump Derangement Syndrome develop into a kind of dangerous partisan fever that our founding fathers were afraid of,” he added.
“And then, just before the holidays, this sad spectacle took another turn. As soon as the partisan impeachment votes had finished, the prosecutors began to develop cold feet. Instead of sending articles to the Senate, they flinched. They flinched. That’s right. The same people who spent weeks screaming that impeachment was so serious and so urgent that it couldn’t wait for due process now decided it could wait indefinitely while they check the political winds and look for new talking points.”
McConnell dismissed the idea that Pelosi could pressure Senate leaders into holding the kind of trial she wants, reiterating he wants to follow the precedent set during the Clinton trial. The two-phase process allows the prosecutors and defense, or House lawyers and Trump’s representatives, to present their cases to the Senate before senators then vote on whether to allow witnesses.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called for witnesses to be subpoenaed for the Senate trial, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Schumer said on the Senate floor that the “issue holding up the Senate trial” is “whether there will be witnesses or documents.”
“The Republican leader hasn’t given one good reason why there shouldn’t be relevant witnesses or relevant documents,” he added.
Trump was impeached on Dec. 18, 2019, for abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.
Pelosi later Friday responded to McConnell, writing: “For several months, the House has subpoenaed documents and witnesses which the President stonewalled. These cases are now in the courts. While the House nevertheless was able to obtain compelling evidence of impeachable conduct, Leader McConnell knows full well that the President’s obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry is unprecedented and in defiance of our system of checks and balances.”
“Leader McConnell is doubling down on his violation of his oath, even after the exposure of new, deeply incriminating documents this week which provide further evidence of what we know: President Trump abused the power of his office for personal, political gain,” she claimed.
“The American people deserve the truth. Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution. The GOP Senate must immediately proceed in a manner worthy of the Constitution and in light of the gravity of the President’s unprecedented abuses. No one is above the law, not even the President.”
Both Pelosi and Schumer shared a story that included unredacted versions of emails from Trump administration officials about the hold placed on aid to Ukraine over the summer, asserting the emails backed up the impeachment efforts.
Trump has largely focused on the situation in the Middle East this week but did issue a statement late Thursday, directing attention to the recent findings by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and calling the impeachment efforts a continuation of a “Witch Hunt.”
“If this had happened to a Presidential candidate, or President, who was a Democrat, everybody involved would long ago be in jail for treason (and more), and it would be considered the CRIME OF THE CENTURY, far bigger and more sinister than Watergate!” he said.