Any leverage House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thought she had over President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Senate appeared to evaporate like water Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that afternoon that no matter how long the speaker holds onto the House’s articles of impeachment against the president, he will not bend the knee and allow her to unfairly dictate the rules of the president’s Senate trial.
The announcement came hours after Pelosi submitted a public letter to her caucus accusing McConnell, a Republican, of being loyal to the president, also a Republican, and demanding he capitulates to her demands.
“Speaker Pelosi wanted leverage to reach into the Senate and dictate our trial proceedings to us,” the Senate leader said in a floor speech.
“Now I’ve made clear from the beginning that no such leverage exists. It is nonexistent. And yesterday we made clear it will never exist. The House Democrats’ turn is over. The Senate has made its decision.”
He reiterated this refrain in a tweet posted later that afternoon:
There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure. We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats’ turn is over. The Senate has made its decision. This is for the Senate, and the Senate only, to decide.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) January 8, 2020
That same afternoon, Politico ran a report revealing that Senate Democrats have also turned against the House speaker, in part because of McConnell’s maneuvering.
“Democrats’ hopes of swaying the GOP leader have dimmed after McConnell secured the votes in his caucus to move forward without an agreement on witnesses and documents,” the outlet revealed. “And Senate Democrats say it’s time to begin the trial and end the delay.”
“The longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly said. “So if it’s serious and urgent, send them over. If it isn’t, don’t send it over.”
From the get-go, House Democrats argued that impeaching the president was a “serious and urgent” process that had to be completed ASAP for the health of the nation and its next general election. Yet the moment the House approved articles of impeachment against the president, this sentiment seemed to disappear overnight.
“Just weeks ago, it was Jerry Nadler and Eric Swalwell saying things like nothing could be more urgent than this impeachment,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican, noted during an appearance on Fox News in late December.
“Swalwell called it a crime spree in progress, and now Nancy Pelosi sort of holds the articles of impeachment like some demented non-Santa Claus not delivering the gifts to the children. It’s very strange to observe.”
(Source: Fox News)
Senate Democrats appear to agree.
Sen. Joe Manchin reportedly said that House Democrats “should move on” from their stunts and just transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, while Sen. Jon Tester added that he’s “ready” for the trial to start already.
“We need to get folks to testify and we need more information … but nonetheless, I’m ready,” he said. “I don’t know what leverage we have. It looks like the cake is already baked.”
Pelosi has sought to dictate the rules of the GOP-Senate trial by attempting to force McConnell to subpoena those witnesses whom her colleagues had failed to interview during their own hearings in the Democrat-led House.
But the argument by McConnell is that House Democrats already had their chance and made their bed. With the articles of impeachment now formally approved, the process of impeachment lies with the Senate, not the House. And the blame for this lies solely with Democrats.
Prior to House Democrats voting on articles of impeachment, numerous pundits and analysts from both sides of the political aisle warned them to slow their roll and stop rushing a process that has historically always taken far longer to complete.
Even notorious (and quite legally challenged) anti-Trump zealot Michael Avenatti warned Democrats against rushing the process:
It makes no sense as to why the Dems are rushing to get the impeachment before the Senate, where McConnell, Graham, Cruz, et al. will take control of the process. Once again, the Dems are playing tic-tac-toe while the Republicans play 3D chess.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) December 10, 2019
Turley warns House Democrats against rushing the impeachment process: “If you rush this impeachment, you’re going to leave half the country behind…You have to give the time to build a record. This isn’t an impulse buy item.” https://t.co/5Pgb8iGzpR pic.twitter.com/fe0ku8H52z
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 4, 2019
Democrats chose, however, to ignore the warnings, and now they must live with the consequences of their own poor decision-making, Republicans have argued.
In an interview late Wednesday with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham praised McConnell for standing up to Pelosi and predicted that the president’s trial will likely start as earlier as next week.
“Hats off to Mitch McConnell for playing this very well. We’ll take the trial up next week,” he reportedly said.
He also revealed that he plans to introduce a resolution Thursday that blasts Pelosi for her intransigence.
“In it, he writes that Pelosi lacks ‘the power to effectively veto a resolution passed by a duly elected majority of the House of Representatives by refusing to transmit such a resolution to the Senate,'” Fox News has confirmed.
“Graham argued that hanging onto the articles ‘is a flagrant violation of the separation of powers expressly outlined in the bicameral impeachment process under the Constitution of the United States.'”