McConnell Suggests Senate Will Move to Dismiss Impeachment After Opening Arguments

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
By Paul Martin

17 Dec 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hinted in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday morning that the Senate will move to dismiss the pending articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump after opening arguments in the expected trial.

McConnell was reacting to a proposal by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday that the Senate call four additional, in-person witnesses that were not called, or not available, during the House inquiry, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA).

But McConnell dismissed that suggestion out of hand, arguing that Schumer was trying to make “Chairman Schiff’s sloppy work more persuasive.”

McConnell accused Schumer of going straight to the news media with his proposals rather than speaking to him in person, as Senate leaders had done in the past.

He also noted that Schumer had misquoted the Constitution. The Democrat leader had claimed the Constitution gave the Senate “sole Power of Impeachment,” whereas Article I, Section 3 actually states, “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

“We don’t create impeachments over here … we judge them,” he declared.

It was the House’s role to investigate, and to build a case. “If they fail, they fail! It’s not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach to search desperately for ways to get to guilty. That would hardly be impartial justice.”

The Senate would not, he said, participate in “new fact-finding” that House Democrats were “too impatient” to pursue.

The Republican leader said he agreed with Schumer’s suggestion that the Senate follow the model used in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, but accused Schumer of departing from that precedent.

In the 1999 trial, McConnell noted, here there were two procedural motions — one at the start of the trial, which allowed for a motion to dismiss; and a later one guiding the trial’s procedures and conclusion.

McConnell noted that Schumer had supported a motion to dismiss in the Clinton case. He added that Schumer had opposed the calling of live witnesses in that case.

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