McConnell Says GOP Senators Haven’t Ruled out Witnesses in Trump Impeachment Trial

December 23, 2019 Updated: December 23, 2019
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Republicans haven’t ruled out witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and said it should mirror the one of President Bill Clinton, the last president to be impeached.

“We haven’t ruled out witnesses,” McConnell said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday. “We’ve said, ‘Let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton.’ Fair is fair.”

The Senate majority leader has pressed for a short trial and a vote on articles of impeachment sometime after the trial gets underway.

Speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox News last week, McConnell explained why he opposes a trial with witnesses and added he would “take my cues” from the president’s lawyers. “If you know you have the votes, you’ve listened to the arguments on both sides and believe the case is so slim, so weak that you have the votes to end it, that might be what the President’s lawyers would prefer. And you can certainly make the case for making it shorter rather than longer since it’s such a weak case,” he said.

Republicans have argued that claims from the Democrats that they need more investigation are evidence that the House rushed the impeachment process without a solid case against Trump. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) again said in a statement Monday that the House can’t choose any impeachment managers until “we know what sort of trial the Senate will conduct.”

Trump weighed in on the impasse after McConnell appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying Pelosi is making a strategically poor move on impeachment.

Pelosi and Trump
R-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). (House Television via AP); L- President Donald Trump. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Pelosi gives us the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress, and now she is crying for fairness in the Senate, and breaking all rules while doing so,” he wrote on Twitter. “She lost Congress once, she will do it again!”

McConnell suggested in his latest TV interview that his hands are tied on the trial until Pelosi sends the articles of impeachment.

“She’s apparently trying to tell us how to run the trial. You know, I’m not anxious to have this trial, so [if] she wants all of the papers, go right ahead,” McConnell said. “I can’t imagine what purpose is served by her holding on to the papers, so sooner or later, I’m assuming she’s going to send them over.”

After he was criticized for his comments about not being an “impartial juror” days ago, he told Fox that those accusing him were no different.

“Do you think Chuck Schumer’s impartial? Do you think Elizabeth Warren is impartial? Bernie Sanders is impartial?” he said. “Let’s quit the charade.”