McConnell: Impeachment is Not a Political Game
‘We have arrived at a simple contradiction. House Democrats’ case cannot simultaneously be so robust that it was enough to impeach in the first place, but also so weak that the Senate needs to go fishing. If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and jury to re-open the investigation. ‘If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place… Impeachment is not a political game. And the United States Senate will not treat it like one.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding impeachment:
‘Tomorrow will be four weeks since House Democrats impeached the president of the United States with purely partisan support.
‘Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff did not wait to fill out the factual record. They did not even wait to see their own subpoenas through the legal system. They plowed ahead for two reasons: They said impeachment was too urgent to wait, and they said they’d already proven their case.
‘But since then, House Democrats have spent four weeks contradicting both of those claims. They’ve spent four weeks demonstrating through their actions that impeachment is actually not that urgent and they do not actually have much confidence in their case.
‘An arbitrary four-week delay does not show urgency. And these demands for the Senate to pre-commit to reopening the House investigation do not show confidence.
‘There is a reason why the House inquiry that led to President Nixon’s resignation took 14 months of hearings, in addition to the separate special prosecutor. There is a reason why the Clinton impeachment inquiry drew on years of prior investigation and mountains of testimony from firsthand fact witnesses.
‘That’s because both of those Houses of Representatives knew they had to prove their case before submitting it to the Senate for judgment.
‘Both situations involved legal battles over executive privilege. Extensive litigation, both times -- not after a trial had been handed to the Senate, but beforehand. When the case was actually being compiled.
‘Mountains of evidence. Mountains of testimony. Long legal battles over privilege. And none of this discovery took place in the Senate.
‘The Constitution gives the sole power of Impeachment to the House. If a House majority wants to impeach a president, the ball is in their court. But they have to do the work. They have to prove their case.
‘Nothing in our history or our Constitution says a House majority can pass what amounts to a half-baked censure resolution and then insist that the Senate fill in the blanks. There is no constitutional exception for a House majority with a short attention span.
‘Look, I think everyone knows this process has not been some earnest fact-finding mission with House Democrats following each thread wherever it leads.
‘The Speaker of the House did not reluctantly decide to impeach after poring over the secondhand impressions of civil servants. This was a predetermined political conclusion. Members of her conference had been publicly promising it for years.
‘That’s why the investigation stopped long before the House had come anywhere near proving what they allege. They pulled the plug early because the facts were never the point. The point was to check a political box.
‘For goodness’s sake, the very morning after the House’s historic vote, Speaker Pelosi literally chastised reporters for asking too many questions about impeachment! She tried to change the subject to economic policy!
‘She said: “Any other questions?... Anybody want to talk about the SALT tax… I'm not going to answer any more questions on this.”
‘Really? You impeach a president of the United States, and the very next morning, there’s nothing to see here? Does that sound like a Speaker of the House who really thinks the survival of the Republic is on the line?
‘Does anyone really think that if Democrats truly believed the president of the United States was a criminal who is imperiling our country, they would have abandoned the search for evidence because they didn’t want to make time for due process?
‘That they would have pulled the plug on the investigation just because it sounded good to finish by Christmas?
‘That they would have delayed the trial for a month while they test-drove new talking points?
‘That they would have been trying to change the subject 12 hours after the vote?
‘I cannot say what Democrats do and do not really believe. But they certainly do not seem to display the urgency or the seriousness you’d expect from people who actually thought they had proven the president should be removed.
‘Last weekend, on television, the Speaker bragged that “this president is impeached for life” regardless of what the Senate does. Regardless of what the Senate does. As if the ultimate verdict were an afterthought.
‘Likewise, the Senate Democratic Leader recently said that as long as he can try to use the trial process to hurt some Republicans’ reelection chances, quote, “it’s a win-win.” That’s what this is all about. The Democratic Leader just laid it right out there, in case anybody had any doubt.
‘What a revealing admission that is. Forget about the fate of the presidency. Forget about the Constitution. As long as the process helps Democrats’ political fortunes, our colleague calls it a “win-win.”
‘Do these sound like leaders who are really believe we are in a constitutional crisis? One that requires the most severe remedy in our entire system of government?
‘Here’s how deep we have come into “Bizarro World.” The latest Democrat talking point is that if the Senate conducts a trial based on what the House itself looked at, we’ll be engaged in a “cover-up”!
‘Did you get that? Unless the Senate steps outside our lane and takes it upon ourselves to supplement the House case, it’s a “cover-up.”
‘Do they think the entire country has forgotten what they were saying just a few days ago?
‘We heard over and over that the House case, on its own, was totally damning and convincing.
‘Clearly a majority of the House felt it was sufficient to impeach. And a number of Senate Democrats were happy to pre-judge the case publicly and suggest the House had proven enough for removal.
‘But now, all of a sudden, the story has reversed. Now, we hardly know anything. Now, the investigation is just beginning. Now, what the House has produced is so weak that they’re calling their own investigation a “cover-up”.
‘Who would be the author of this cover-up -- Chairman Schiff?
‘We have arrived at a simple contradiction. Two things cannot both be true.
‘House Democrats’ case cannot simultaneously be so robust that it was enough to impeach in the first place… but also so weak that the Senate needs to go fishing.
‘If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and jury to re-open the investigation.
‘If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place.
‘I think I’m beginning to understand why the Speaker wanted to change the subject to tax policy.
‘But unfortunately, no matter how irresponsibly this has been handled across the Capitol, impeachment is not a political game. And the United States Senate will not treat it like one.
‘A House majority, fueled by political animus, may have started this with frivolity. But it will fall to the Senate to end it with seriousness and sobriety. It will fall to us to do what the founders intended. To take the long view, move beyond partisan passions, and do what the long-term good of our institutions and our nation demands.’
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