Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to call four new witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

From Axios:

“We don’t create impeachments, Mr. President. We judge them.

“The House chose this road. It is their duty to investigate. It’s their duty to meet the very high bar for undoing a national election. As Speaker Pelosi herself once said, it is the House’s obligation to, quote, ‘build an ironclad case to act.’

“If they fail, they fail. It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to guilty. That would hardly be impartial justice.”

McConnell said that “[I]f the House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Senate.”

The investigation is the House’s job, McConnell stressed. He added that the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees should have completed the “fact-finding mission.”

To change the Senate’s role in impeachment “could invite a string of future ‘dubious’ and ‘frivolous’ impeachment inquiries.”

If McConnell accepted Schumer’s requests, he said it would set a “nightmarish precedent” for future impeachment trials:

“The Senate is meant to act as judge and jury, to hear a trial, not to re-run the entire fact-finding investigation because angry partisans rushed sloppily through it,” he said on the Senate floor.

McConnell also pointed out flaws in Schumer’s letter that insisted he wanted to keep “the bipartisan spirit” that took place during President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial:

The majority leader on Tuesday also pointed out that Schumer’s letter referenced “keeping with the bipartisan spirit” of the procedures followed in the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton, but stated that Schumer then went on “to demand things that would break with the 1999 model.” For example, he recalled that the 1999 impeachment trial procedures were laid out in two separate resolutions, with many of the details coming after it began and following a motion to dismiss that had been filed by Democrats including Schumer himself. Schumer’s letter, however, called for all procedures to be set out in a single resolution.

“Look, most people understand what the democratic leader is really after,” McConnell said, alleging that what Schumer wanted to do was “lock in live witnesses.”

The House could vote on the articles of impeachment on Wednesday. Congress breaks for Christmas on Friday.

Schumer asked to call four new witnesses who did not testify in House hearings:

  • Mick Mulvaney – acting White House chief of staff
  • John Bolton – former national security adviser
  • Michael Duffey – associate director for national security, Office of Management and Budget
  • Robert Blair – senior adviser to Mulvaney

Schumer took to the Senate floor after McConnell’s speech:

“I listened to the leader’s speech. I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony,” he said. “Why is the president so afraid to have these witnesses come testify? What are they afraid the witnesses would say?”

“I’d like to hear Leader McConnell come to the floor and give specific reasons why the four witnesses we’ve asked for shouldn’t testify,” he continued, suggesting they could provide information that would help the president’s case.

But McConnell explained why he does not want to call new witnesses. He specifically said it is not the Senate’s job to lead a “fact-finding mission.” That should have happened in the House impeachment hearings.

Schumer stated he will bring votes to the floor “on specific witnesses.” He would need 51 votes to call a witness, but the Republicans hold 53 seats.

Schumer also complained that McConnell’s rejection shows he is not working with the minority leader to set the procedures for the trial.

However, McConnell said he is eager to meet with Schumer to work on the trial procedures.


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