McConnell Secures Votes To Move Forward On Impeachment Trial Rules Without Dems

Mitch McConnell has just announced that he
has enough votes locked in to move forward with setting up the Senate impeachment trial
rules without Democrats. In effect, this will allow McConnell to bypass
Chuck Schumer’s demands for new witnesses and hold the impeachment trial with the same
rules Clinton had. Politico has more details: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is
moving forward on a set of impeachment trial rules without Democratic support. The Kentucky Republican said Tuesday that
he has locked down sufficient backing from his 53-member caucus to pass a blueprint for
the trial that leaves the question of seeking witnesses and documents until after opening
arguments are made. That framework would mirror the contours of
President Bill Clinton’s trial and ignore Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s demands
for witnesses and new evidence at the outset. “We have the votes once the impeachment
trial has begun to pass a resolution essentially the same — very similar — to the 100 to
nothing vote in the Clinton trial,” McConnell told reporters. “All we’re doing here is saying we’re
going to get started in exactly the same way that 100 senators agreed to 20 years ago.” The GOP leader added that the Senate will
“get around to the discussion of witnesses,” but not before the Senate trial begins. Schumer reiterated his pledge to force votes
on witnesses and documents and offered his own warning to Senate Republicans Tuesday
afternoon: “You can run but you can’t hide.” “Large numbers of Republicans have refused
to say whether they are for witnesses and documents and that’s why Leader McConnell
came up with this kick-the-can down the road theory,” Schumer said. “McConnell will never go for it but will four
of his Republican colleagues?” The Hill also said: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
has the votes to quash Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer’s (N.Y.) demands to require
additional witnesses testify at the start of President Trump’s impeachment trial. Two key moderate senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine)
and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), on Monday evening backed McConnell’s position that the Senate
should follow the precedent of the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial and defer until later in
the process the question of calling additional witnesses. Collins told reporters at Monday evening votes
that the Senate should follow the 1999 precedent and consider the question of subpoenaing additional
witnesses and documents only after House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team present
their opening arguments. She noted in a statement Monday that then-Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) adopted a resolution
in 1999 to set out the rules for the proceeding that didn’t include any agreement for specific
witnesses to testify. “The process moved to a period during which
the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed. I believe that this process — the Clinton
approach — worked well,” she said. Murkowski also urged colleagues to follow
the path laid out during the Clinton trial. “I think we need to do what they did the
last time they did this unfortunate process and that was to go through a first phase and
then they reassessed after that,” she told reporters. The Alaska senator also said questions about
whether former national security adviser John Bolton and other key witnesses should testify
should be discussed only after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sends the articles of impeachment
to the Senate. “We don’t have anything to get to? So do you have any interesting news for me
on that? Like when we might be able to get articles?”
she said. She said the precedent set by Clinton’s
trial “is how we get started with this.” “I don’t think there is any decision on
Bolton because we don’t have articles,” she added. The statements of these two crucial votes
are a setback for Schumer and Pelosi who have been pressing GOP moderates hard over the
past several weeks to insist on an opening resolution for the trial that would set the
table for subpoenaing key witnesses and documents.

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