Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed his Democratic counterpart’s proposal calling for new witnesses to be subpoenaed for the anticipated impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, saying Tuesday it is not the Senate’s job to do the House’s “homework” for them.
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to McConnell stating that the Senate should call four witnesses to testify, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
The four were subpoenaed during the House-led impeachment inquiry, but did not testify after the White House claimed executive privilege.
Democrats chose not take the matter to court, citing concerns it would delay their impeachment proceedings too long.
Speaking from the Senate floor on Tuesday, McConnell noted that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and his fellow House Democrats “decided not go to court and pursue potentially useful witnesses because they didn’t want to wait for due process. Indeed, they threatened to impeach the president, if they had to go to court at all.”
The result McConnell, contended, is the “thinnest, least thorough presidential impeachment in our nation’s history.”
“So now, the Senate Democratic leader would apparently like our chamber to the House Democrats’ homework for them,” the majority leader said. “He wants to volunteer the Senate’s time and energy on a fishing expedition to see whether his own ideas could make Chairman Schiff’s sloppy work more persuasive than Chairman Schiff himself bothered to make it.”
McConnell argued if the Senate were to adopt Schumer’s proposal to subpoena new witnesses and demand for documents, it would set a “nightmarish precedent.”
“We will invite future Houses to paralyze future Senates with frivolous impeachments, at will,” he said.
McConnell pointed out the Constitution vests the House with the sole power of impeachment.
“We don’t create impeachments over here. … We judge them,” he said. “The House chose this road. It’s their duty to investigate. It’s their duty to meet the very high bar for undoing a national election.”
McConnell quoted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as saying it’s the House of Representatives’ obligation to “build an ironclad case to act.”
“If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it over here in the Senate, the answer is the House should not impeach on this basis in the first place,” the majority leader said.
“But if the House plows ahead,” McConnell continued. “If this ends up here in the Senate, we certainly do not need jurors to start brainstorming witness lists for the prosecution and demanding to lock them in before we’ve even heard opening arguments.”
Schumer later responded to McConnell on the Senate floor, saying, “I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on McConnell’s objection of impeachment witnesses: “I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony. … Why is the President so afraid to have these witnesses come testify?” pic.twitter.com/o3QHs84ltR
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 17, 2019
“Senators who oppose this plan will have to explain why less evidence is better than more evidence,” he said.
The minority leader further stated that he had spoken with Republican senators who told him that they had not seen enough evidence yet to make a decision on impeachment.
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