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.
The Majority Leader also strongly suggested that a motion to dismiss would be on Republicans’ agenda in trying the case against President Trump.
McConnell called the House effort to investigate Trump the “most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history,” anticipating that its “slapdash work product” would be “dumped” on the Senate after Wednesday’s House vote.
He said that Schumer was trying to fill in the gaps in the House Democrats’ case. “Might he — just might he be coordinating these questions with people outside the Senate?” he asked rhetorically, answering Democrats’ claims that McConnell could not be impartial in the Senate trial because he had said he would be working with the White House.
The Democrats’ case, McConnell said, did not come “anywhere near the bar for impeaching a duly elected president, let alone removing him for the first time in American history.”
“By any ordinary legal standard, what House Democrats have assembled would appear to be woefully, woefully inadequate to prove what they want to allege.”
McConnell warned that by impeaching President Trump on the grounds proposed by House Democrats, “we will invite future Houses to paralyze future Senates with frivolous impeachments at will.”
“The House should not impeach on this basis in the first place,” McConnell said. He added that he still hoped to meet with Schumer.
Some Republicans, including President Trump, have proposed calling a variety of witnesses — including Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and the so-called “whistleblower.”
However, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has suggested dispensing with the charges swiftly and calling other witnesses as part of the ordinary oversight process.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.