The standoff over President Trump’s expected impeachment trial showed no signs of letting up Friday, as Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi accused each other of playing political football with the somber process.
Returning to the Capitol Hill after the holidays, McConnell, the powerful Republican majority leader of the Senate, charged House Democrats had “flinched” by refusing to immediately transmit the two articles of impeachment against Trump to the upper chamber for a trial.
But McConnell maintained he’s not in a rush.
“For now, we’re content with continuing the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. “But if they ever muster the courage to stand by their slapdash work product, it will then be time for the United States Senate to fulfill our founding purpose.”
“They’ve done enough damage,” McConnell added of the Democrats.
McConnell’s comments made Pelosi see red.
“Leader McConnell is doubling down on his violation of his oath, even after the exposure of new, deeply incriminating documents this week which provide further evidence of what we know: President Trump abused the power of his office for personal, political gain,” Pelosi said in a statement, referring to a string of emails unearthed this week showing there were serious concerns inside the administration about the legality of Trump’s hold on $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
Pelosi didn’t say when or if she plans to send over the impeachment articles, but reiterated that she wants assurances of a fair trial that includes testimony and subpoenas for records withheld by the administration.
“The American people deserve the truth,” she said. “The GOP Senate must immediately proceed in a manner worthy of the Constitution and in light of the gravity of the president’s unprecedented abuses. No one is above the law, not even the president.”
Speaking on the floor after McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said there has been no progress on Democratic demands that Trump’s trial include testimony from the likes for former national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. “(McConnell) hasn’t given one good reason why there shouldn’t be relevant witnesses or relevant documents,” Schumer said minutes after the GOP leader spoke. “Instead of trying to find the truth, he is still using the same feeble talking points.”
The House impeached Trump last month, charging he must be removed from office for abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine for investigations into his political rivals then obstructing the congressional probe into his misdeeds.
Democrats hope to use the delay in transferring the articles of impeachment as leverage to force McConnell to make concessions about the rules for a Senate trial, especially the need for witnesses and records.
Both sides admit those two and others had direct knowledge of Trump’s plan to bully Ukraine into launching bogus investigations into Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.