“Speaker Pelosi suggested House Democrats may be too afraid to transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate. It looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second-guessing whether they should actually go to trial,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
McConnell railed against House Democrats a day after they voted to impeach Republican President Donald Trump, accusing them of bringing an “unfair, unfinished product” that was “constitutionally incoherent” to a vote.
“The House has created an unfair, unfinished product that looks nothing like any impeachment inquiry in American history. And if the speaker ever gets her house in order, that mess will be dumped over here in the Senate’s lap. If the Senate blesses this slapdash impeachment—if we say that from now on, this is enough—then we invite an endless parade of impeachment trials. Future Houses of either party will be invited to toss up a jump ball anytime they feel angry,” he said.
“We’d be giving future Houses of either party unbelievable power to paralyze the Senate at their whim.”
McConnell said that the Senate was created to “take the long view” and stay above partisan rancor that sometimes consumes Washington.
“The moment the framers feared has arrived,” he said. “A political faction in the lower chamber has succumbed to partisan rage.”
McConnell did not indicate the course of action the Senate would take if Pelosi refuses to submit the articles to the chamber. He said that the Senate would be prepared to do its duty.
Pelosi on Wednesday night threatened to delay the impeachment trial in the Senate, suggesting she’d use the articles as leverage to influence how the trial would go.
“We cannot name [impeachment] managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,” she told reporters in Washington.
“The question is now whether Sen. McConnell will allow a fair trial in the Senate, whether the majority leader will allow a trial that involves witnesses and testimony and documents,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) added. “A trial that should be fair to the president, yes, but should be fair to the American people.”
Trump took to Twitter to criticize House Democrats, saying that it’s the “Senate’s call” on what to do next.
“‘The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.’ If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!” the president wrote, quoting the Constitution.
“The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.” If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2019
McConnell said this week that he’s been “coordinating” with the White House on guidelines for the trial. He told reporters that he wants the Senate to vote on rules for the first part of the trial, where representatives from the House and for Trump would present their cases and Senators would submit written questions.
After that, he said, the Senate could either vote to dismiss with a simple majority, or vote to allow the trial to continue and to call witnesses.
Josh Holmes, an adviser to McConnell, wrote a mocking tweet on Dec. 18 about Pelosi’s ploy: “Folks, this might be the greatest compliment McConnell has ever received. They are seriously entertaining holding a grenade with the pin pulled rather than facing what happens when they send it over McConnell’s wall.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking on the floor after McConnell on Thursday, accused him of being partisan and that he couldn’t defend Trump because arguments in the president’s defense were “weak.”
“Leader McConnell claimed the impeachment was motivated by partisan rage. This from the man who said proudly, ‘I am not impartial, I have no intention to be impartial in the trial of President Trump.’ What hypocrisy!” Schumer said.
He said that blocking witnesses would be unprecedented and wondered whether McConnell would “strong arm his caucus” into voting to dismiss the trial before witnesses are heard from.