Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is supporting a resolution that would allow the Senate to reject the House-passed articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump without holding a trial.
The resolution to change the Senate’s rules was introduced by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who announced Thursday that McConnell had signed on as a co-sponsor.
“Speaker Pelosi started this bogus impeachment by claiming President Trump was an urgent ‘threat to democracy’ who had to be removed now,” Hawley said in a statement Monday, when he introduced the resolution. “But after a bipartisan vote against the articles in the House, and with the public opposed to the Democrats’ partisan games, Pelosi has changed her tune.”
The resolution would give the House 25 days to send its articles of impeachment over to the Senate. Once that time has elapsed, a senator could offer a motion to dismiss “with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute such articles.”
The motion could then pass with a simple majority vote, according to The Hill.
The resolution introduced by Hawley could be passed using what is called the “nuclear” option, which would allow a simple majority of 51 votes to decide on the rules change needed to let it proceed.
Otherwise, the resolution would require two-thirds support to pass the Senate.
The House rushed to pass the articles before its Christmas recess, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to formally transmit them to the Senate until she approves of how the Senate will conduct its required trial on the articles.
The delay has irked McConnell, who has criticized Pelosi for the tactic.
“This is what they have done: They have initiated one of the most grave and most unsettling processes in our Constitution and then refused to allow a resolution,” he said Thursday.
‘The speaker began something that she herself predicted would be ‘so divisive to the country’ … and now she is unilaterally saying it cannot move forward towards a resolution,” he added.
Pelosi, for her part, now says she might send the articles over “soon.”
“I’m not holding them indefinitely,” she told reporters Thursday, according to The Hill. “I’ll send them over when I’m ready, and that will probably be soon.”
In the aftermath of those words, McConnell told senators that the trial could start next week.
“We thought, we as the body, that the speaker will … shortly send that over, so [McConnell] said next weekend don’t go anywhere,” Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said.
GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said McConnell told other Republicans he expected the articles in the “next day or two.”
Senate plans call for the trial to start at 1 p.m. on the day after the articles arrives at the upper chamber of Congress, with the Senate scheduled to meet six days a week until the trial ends.
McConnell said he was anxious to get the trial started.
“I have no idea when they’re gonna come over,” he told reporters Thursday, as Fox News reported. “Let me just say that I sure hope so. We’ve been waiting three weeks and would love to have the opportunity to get started.”
On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced a resolution demanding immediate transmittal of the articles.
“This resolution is a simple statement by the Senate. It is our job as senators to dispose of the articles that were lawfully passed,” Graham said. “The speaker’s attempt to shape or delay the trial is unprecedented. It cannot stand.”
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