McConnell Updates Senate on Impeachment Procedure

‘We have this curious situation where, following House Democrats’ rush to impeachment, following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of this situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding impeachment procedure:

‘For the information of all our colleagues…

‘Earlier this afternoon, my friend the Democratic Leader and I had a cordial conversation. We discussed potential paths forward following the House Democrats’ precedent-breaking impeachment of President Trump.

‘Our conversation was cordial. But my friend from New York continues to insist on departing — departing — from the unanimous bipartisan precedent that 100 Senators approved before the beginning of President Clinton’s trial.

‘In 1999, Senators recognized that there might well be disagreements about questions that would arise at the middle and end of the trial, such as witnesses. And so all 100 senators endorsed a commonsense solution: We divided the process into two stages.

‘The first resolution passed unanimously before the trial began. It laid initial groundwork, such as scheduling, and structured early steps like the opening arguments. Mid-trial questions such as witnesses would be left until the middle of the trial, when senators could make more informed judgments.

‘All 100 senators – including me, Senator Schumer, and a number of our colleagues on both sides who were here in 1999 – endorsed that first resolution as a bipartisan, minimalist first step.

‘But as of today, we remain at an impasse. Because my friend the Democratic Leader continues to demand a new and different set of rules for President Trump.

‘He wants us to break from that unanimous bipartisan precedent and force an all-or-nothing approach.

‘He wants a special pre-trial guarantee of certain witnesses whom the House Democrats did not even bother to pursue themselves as they assembled their case… or he wants to proceed without any organizing resolution whatsoever.

‘So as I said, a cordial conversation, we remain at an impasse on these logistics. I continue to believe that the unanimous bipartisan precedent that was good enough for President Clinton ought to be good enough for this President too. Fair is fair.

‘Now, of course there is the matter of the articles of impeachment themselves.

‘In a highly unusual step, the Speaker of the House continues to hem and haw about whether and when she intends to take the normal next step and transmit the House’s accusations to the Senate.

‘Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of “leverage” so they can dictate the Senate process to Senators. I admit, I’m not sure what “leverage” there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want!

‘Meanwhile, other House Democrats seem to be suggesting they’d prefer never to transmit the articles. And the Speaker of the House herself has been unclear on this. Her message has been somewhat muddled.

‘So we have this fascinating situation where, following House Democrats’ rush to impeachment, following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of this situation, the prosecutors have now developed cold feet.

‘The House Democrat “prosecution” seem to have gotten cold feet and to be unsure whether they even want to proceed to a trial.

‘Like I said — a pretty unusual spectacle. And, in my view, not one that reflects well on the House.

‘So we’ll continue to see how this develops, and whether the House Democrats ever work up the courage to take their accusations to trial.

‘But let me close with this. I am proud the Senate came together today to confirm more well-qualified nominees and pass major legislation for the American people.

‘I wish all my colleagues a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a joyous New Year. I hope everyone enjoys this important time with our families and loved ones.

‘We’ll see you in 2020.’