McConnell: The Senate “Will Not Cede Our Authority” on Impeachment
‘The Senate is not a creature of the House. The Democratic Leader does not need to continue to be in thrall to the Speaker. He does not need to keep colluding with outside efforts to supplant the judgment of his own colleagues. Stand up for the Senate. Stand up for our institutions. Stand up for the country.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding impeachment:
‘Now, I do need to say a few words about the other serious matter occupying the Congress.
‘Late last year, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats sped through a slapdash impeachment of President Trump in 12 weeks. Because, they insisted, the need to undo the 2016 election was urgent. Urgent, they said.
‘Since then, the same people have spent three weeks dragging their heels and refusing to proceed to a Senate trial.
‘Supposedly, the explanation for this shameless game-playing is that Speaker Pelosi wanted “leverage” to reach into the Senate and dictate our trial proceedings to us. I’ve made clear from the beginning that no such “leverage” exists. It’s nonexistent. And yesterday we made it clear it will never exist.
‘A majority of the Senate has decided that the first phase of an impeachment trial should track closely with the unanimous bipartisan precedent that all 100 senators supported for the first phase of the Clinton trial back in 1999.
‘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.
‘The 1999 precedent does not guarantee witnesses or foreclose witnesses. Let me say that again: it neither guarantees witnesses nor forecloses witnesses. It leaves those determinations until later in the trial where they belong.
‘I fully expect the parties will raise questions about witnesses at the appropriate time. I would remind my friends on the other side: I strongly suspect that not all the potential witnesses would be people the Democrats are eager to hear from.
‘So the Senate will address all these questions at the appropriate time. That is for the Senate, and the Senate only, to decide. Period.
‘Now even fellow Democrats are expressing public concern over the Speaker’s endless appetite for these cynical games.
‘Here’s what the junior senator from Connecticut told the press yesterday: He said, “I think the time has passed. She should send the articles over.” And the senior senator from West Virginia said: “I think it needs to start, I really do.” And the junior senator from Maine said: “I think it is time for the Speaker to send the articles over.”
‘My Democratic friends are losing patience -- just like the American people are losing patience. The country knows this absurdity should not go on.
‘So what are the American people saying? A recent Harvard/Harris poll found that 58 percent of Americans believe Speaker Pelosi should send the articles to the Senate, not continue holding them up. Let me say that again, this is a Harvard poll: found that 58 percent of Americans believe Speaker Pelosi should send the articles to the Senate, not continue holding them up.
‘And in the same survey, 77 percent believe Democrats need to accept the same structure as the Clinton trial rather than hold out for special new rules.
‘So we’re beginning to hear from the American people, how they view this standoff.
‘We all know that senators have a diversity of opinions about President Trump; about the House inquiry; about the optimal structure for a trial.
‘But notwithstanding all this, no senator — no senator — should want the House of Representatives to steamroll institutional norms and dictate our business to us.
‘Haven’t enough toxic new precedents been set in recent months? Hasn’t the House broken enough constitutional china already?
‘This is not about the current Speaker and the current President. Do my colleagues believe this is what a future Democratic president would deserve? Do they believe it is good for the country?
‘There is a reason the Constitution reads the way it does. The House has “the sole power of impeachment.” They have exercised it. But it is the Senate to whom the founders gave “the sole power to try all impeachments.” End of story.
‘And yet, even as her fellow Democrats are jumping ship, the Speaker is trying to double down.
‘Yesterday evening, in the midst of these deadly serious events, Speaker Pelosi put out yet another statement saying she has no intention to end her political game-playing. At the very same time that a global crisis was unfolding in real time, she published yet another “Dear Colleague” letter saying she intends to keep our commander-in-chief in this limbo indefinitely.
‘I’m glad Democratic Senators are losing patience with this. I would urge my friend the Democratic Leader to listen to his own members.
‘My distinguished colleague from New York is the Minority Leader in the United States Senate. He is a senior member of an independent branch of our bicameral legislature. The Senate is not a creature of the House. The Democratic Leader does not need to continue to be in thrall to the Speaker. He does not need to keep colluding with outside efforts to supplant the judgment of his own colleagues.
‘Stand up for the Senate. Stand up for our institutions. Stand up for the country.’
Related Issues: Senate Democrats