Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday mocked Democrats’ call for an impeachment trial untainted by political bias, arguing that the process is fundamentally political and called any suggestion to the contrary a “charade.”
“Do you think Chuck Schumer is impartial? Do you think Elizabeth Warren is impartial? Bernie Sanders is impartial? So let’s quit the charade. This is a political exercise,” McConnell said Monday morning on Fox News in response to Democratic leaders’ claim that his loyalty to the president will prevent him from conducting a “fair” trial.
The House voted on Wednesday to approve two articles of impeachment against the president, voting 230 to 197 to charge Trump with abuse of power and 229 to 198 to charge him with obstruction of Congress.
Since then, however, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has delayed sending the approved articles over to the Senate until Democrats receive assurances that the Republican-controlled Senate will conduct a “fair” trial, a decision McConnell called “absurd.”
“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” Pelosi said Wednesday.
McConnell said that “all I’m asking” of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is that the Senate treat Trump “the same way” it treated President Bill Clinton during his impeachment.
The Kentucky Republican noted that Schumer voted for the rules governing the impeachment trial in the Senate, “to go through the opening arguments, to have a written question period, and then, based upon that, deciding what witnesses to call.”
“We haven’t ruled out witnesses. We’ve said let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair,” McConnell said.
The Senate leader said he also spoke personally to Schumer before lawmakers left town for the holidays, but the two remain at an “impasse.”
“We can’t do anything until the speaker sends the papers over, so everybody enjoy the holidays,” McConnell said.
McConnell, who is up for reelection next year, is under pressure from both Democrats and the White House, both of whom want to call witnesses during the Senate trial that McConnell is likely to block.
“The American people, if they think this is a very significant episode, can take it into account we’re voting [next] year,” McConnell said. “Most people that I run into, whether they are fans of the president or not, say, ‘Well, why don’t you just let us decide this. We’re in the middle of the election.’”