Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said he has the
votes to proceed with President Donald Trump's impeachment trial without
first making a decision on whether to call witnesses sought by
He said the question of witnesses will be decided after opening arguments in the case.
"We have the votes," McConnell told reporters, to proceed with the trial
in a similar fashion to former President Bill Clinton's impeachment
"What's good for President Clinton is good for President Trump," he said. "We'll get around to a discussion of witnesses."
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber should hear from witnesses and view evidence before hearing arguments.
"There will be votes on the four witnesses we have asked for," he said.
Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
Earlier Tuesday, McConnell criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for
continuing to hold onto both articles of impeachment that were passed by
the lower chamber almost three weeks ago. House Democrats are
withholding the articles from the Senate -- and, thus, delaying the
start of the trial -- in a bid to negotiate with upper chamber
Republicans on certain "fair" provisions of the proceeding.
McConnell has said repeatedly he'd like a speedy trial and is working
with Trump's attorneys on the matter -- a move that's drawn heavy
criticism from Democrats due to the impartiality oath all senators must
take before participating in the trial.
"How inappropriate and how embarrassing to rush forward on a partisan
basis and then treat ... what you've done like a political toy," he
said. "How contemptuous of the American people."
Politico reported Tuesday McConnell had secured the 51 votes to move
ahead with planning the trial without help from Democrats. Key
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska,
however, have both indicated they favor delaying a decision on
witnesses, which would be a victory for Democrats. Both senators are
considered "swing" voters.
Democrats have demanded the inclusion of multiple key administration
witnesses and certain documents that weren't presented at the House
impeachment inquiry. Schumer said he plans to force votes concerning
potential witnesses at the start of the trial.
"Make no mistake, on the question of witnesses and documents,
Republicans may run but they can't hide," he said. "There will be votes
at the beginning on whether to call the four witnesses we've proposed
and subpoena the documents we've identified.
"If every Republican senator votes for a rigged trial that hides the
truth, the American people will see that the Republican Senate is part
of a large and awful cover-up."
McConnell and Schumer have been at an impasse for weeks over Democrats'
demands for the new evidence and four witnesses -- including former
national security adviser John Bolton, who said Monday he's willing to
testify if subpoenaed.
When asked on Tuesday if he would be OK with Bolton testifying, Trump
said that decision will be "up to the lawyers" and the Senate, while
also noting comments by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he
felt no pressure from Trump to carry out investigations into former Vice
President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
"He would know nothing about what we're talking about," Trump said of
Bolton. "Because as you know the Ukranian government came out with a
very strong statement -- 'no pressure, no anything' -- and this is from
the boss. That's from the president of Ukraine. The foreign minister
came out with a statement that was equally as strong."
In his remarks Tuesday, McConnell denounced the House impeachment
process as "most rushed, least thorough and most unfair" in the nation's
The House approved the articles Dec. 18, formally making Trump the third
U.S. president to be impeached by the lower chamber. The articles
accuse him of abusing his power and obstruction of Congress for
resisting efforts to aid in the House inquiry.
McConnell is seeking two resolutions on the matter -- one defining the
trial procedures and one to determine whether any witnesses should be
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