House Democrats have begun pressing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to force the Senate to tailor Donald Trump’s upcoming constitutional trial to their wishes—by refusing to send the articles of impeachment they passed Wednesday night until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees to their terms.
McConnell isn’t amused. He plans to call her bluff in a mid-morning floor speech, saying she’s afraid to hand him the baton because she knows the articles are weak.
‘Pelosi suggested that House Democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate,’ he will say, mocking her suggesting in a post-vote press conference that she’ll hold the two articles over McConnell’s head until he agrees to a ‘fair’ trial.
The majority leader’s staff began trickling out excerpts of his floor speech overnight.
Wednesday’s landmark House votes put the capstone on ‘the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history,’ he will say, calling Democrats’ final condemnation of the president ‘fundamentally unlike any articles that any prior House of Representatives has ever passed.’
Trump quoted the U.S. Constitution in a tweet, saying ‘[t]he Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.’
‘The Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call!’ he warned, saying they would ‘lose by default’ if they decided to ignore whatever schedule McConnell sets.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this week demanded McConnell agree to swear in a list of trial witnesses that include senior Trump administration officials and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, people who House Democrats decided not to subpoena during their impeachment inquiry.
McConnell will say Schumer has been ‘searching for ways the Senate could step out of our proper role and try to fix House Democrats’ failures for them.’
George Washington is said to have told Thomas Jefferson that the U.S. Senate was designed to be a calming counterpoint to the more raucous House of Representatives, in the way a teacup’s saucer ‘cools’ a hot beverage.
McConnell, famous for embracing a plodding style when key legislation is on his desk, will lean on the oft-quoted ‘cooling saucer of democracy’—saying that the U.S. Constitution’s framers ‘built the Senate to provide stability’ and ‘[t]o keep partisan passions from boiling over. Moments like this are why the United States Senate exists.’
Pelosi told reporters after adjourning the House of Representatives on Wednesday night that she’s in no hurry to send the two articles of impeachment to McConnell for a trial. Her caucus passed them without any Republican votes, accusing Trump of abusing his power and showing open contempt for Democrats’ investigation by blocking witnesses and document demands.
The Republican-led Senate owns the next chapter of thesaga, a trial where Chief Justice John Roberts will preside. An unlikely two-thirds supermajority is required to convict the president and remove him from office.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, expects his Republican majority to exonerate Trump. But that can’t happen until impeachment ‘managers,’ duos chosen by both parties, present the Senate with the twin impeachment articles.
Pelosi said Wednesday night that she won’t be ready to let go of the process until McConnell demonstrates the trial will be ‘fair’—and she’s nowhere near convinced yet.
The Washington Post quoted Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer overnight saying he has talked to three dozen Democratic lawmakers who favor ’rounding out the record and spending the time to do this right.’
‘At a minimum, there ought to be an agreement about access to witnesses, rules of the game, timing,’ Blumenauer said of the upcoming Senate trial.
And an unnamed Democrat told the newspaper that Democrats are discussing ‘serious concern about whether there will be a fair trial on the Senate side.’
Impeachment managers are appointed via House resolutions; Thursday is the last day the House will be in session until January 7.
‘We have legislation approved by the Rules Committee that will enable us to decide how we send over the articles of impeachment,’ Pelosi said. ‘We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side.’
‘So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,’ she warned. ‘So hopefully it will be fairer. And when see what that is, we’ll send our managers.’
‘Let me tell you what I don’t consider a fair trial,’ Pelosi said as she read from a piece of paper an aide handed her.
‘This is what I don’t consider a fair trial, that Leader McConnell has stated that he’s not an impartial juror, that he’s going to take his “cues” from the White House, and he is working in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office.’
In Michigan, a sweat-glowing Trump said during a raucous campaign rally that he expects no drama.
‘The Republican Party has never been so affronted, but they’ve never been so united as they are right now, ever. Never,’ the president said.
‘And I know the senators and they’re great guys. And women too. We have some great women, we have great guys, they’re great people. They love this counry. They’re going to do the right thing.’
‘Americans will show up by the tens of millions next year to vote Pelosi the hell out of office,’ Trump boasted, calling for the restoration of a Republican House majority.
In theory Pelosi could sit on the paperwork indefinitely, leaving Trump in constitutional purgatory while blaming Senate Republicans for dooming the process with partisanship.
In the meantime, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is pressing McConnell for permission to call a list of witnesses who Democrats want to hear from.
House Democrats denied Republicans the ability to call witnesses of their choice in Intelligence and Judiciary Committee hearings during the impeachment process.
Pelosi’s gambit could be resolved once Schumer has exhausted his leverage.
‘We have done what we set out to do,’ she said, adding that ‘right now, the president is impeached.’
‘We’ll see what happens over there.’