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McConnell declares an impasse for Senate trial, says Schumer wants new rules for partisan impeachment

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House Democrats approved two articles of impeachment Wednesday night, charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. However, in a further show of the political gamesmanship at work here, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has yet to send the articles to the U.S. Senate.

The delay is a ploy by Pelosi and her party of co-conspirators to exert leverage over how the Republican-controlled Senate proceeds, despite the U.S. Constitution clearly stating that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

(With the media largely in her corner, the speaker has few limits in the tactics she chooses to pursue.)

“I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday, speaking from the Senate floor.

McConnell met earlier with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and came out of that meeting to declare an impasse.

He said they could not come to an agreement on the initial steps of an impeachment trial — referring back to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, McConnell is proposing to divide the process into two stages, the first being to establish initial groundwork like scheduling, and structured early steps like the opening arguments.

 

“But as of today, we remain at an impasse. Because my friend the Democratic Leader continues to demand a new and different set of rules for President Trump,” he stated.

McConnell said Schumer wants to “break from that unanimous bipartisan precedent … or he wants to proceed without any organizing resolution whatsoever.”

“So as I said, a cordial conversation, we remain at an impasse on these logistics,” he explained. “I continue to believe that the unanimous bipartisan precedent that was good enough for President Clinton ought to be good enough for this President too — fair is fair.”

As for Pelosi, who called McConnell a “rogue leader” in trying to dictate the terms in which the upper chamber proceeds, McConnell said her message was “muddled” and that her tactics amount to a “pretty unusual spectacle.”

“In a highly unusual step, the Speaker of the House continues to hem and haw about whether and when she intends to take the normal next step and transmit the House’s accusations to the Senate,” he said.

“Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of ‘leverage’ so they can dictate the Senate process to Senators,” he added. “I admit, I’m not sure what ‘leverage’ there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want!”

In noting that other House Democrats seem to be suggesting they’d prefer never to transmit the articles, he said Pelosi “has been unclear on this. Her message has been somewhat muddled.”

“So we have this fascinating situation where, following House Democrats’ rush to impeachment, following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of this situation, the prosecutors have now developed cold feet,” McConnell concluded. “The House Democrat ‘prosecution’ seem to have gotten cold feet and to be unsure whether they even want to proceed to a trial.”

“Like I said, a pretty unusual spectacle,” he continued. “And, in my view, not one that reflects well on the House. So we’ll continue to see how this develops, and whether the House Democrats ever work up the courage to take their accusations to trial.

President Trump tweeted during Thursday night’s Democratic debate his own theory on why Pelosi and Co. are holding the articles of impeachment.

“The reason the Democrats don’t want to submit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate is that they don’t want corrupt politician Adam Shifty Schiff to testify under oath, nor do they want the Whistleblower, the missing second Whistleblower, the informer, the Bidens, to testify!”

Tom Tillison

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