Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared in a Senate floor speech Thursday that Republicans have reached an 'impasse' with Democrats over the rules governing the Senate trial of President Donald Trump, following his impeachment on Wednesday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far refused to name the House managers who would be responsible for presenting the House's case for the president's removal from office, until the Senate had agreed on rules that would ensure a fair trial. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has stated that any trial in the Senate should include witnesses who did not provide testimony to the House.
If the Senate is unable to reach a deal, Trump will remain in limbo, waiting to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled body.
“We remain at an impasse, because my friend, the Democratic leader, continues to demand a new and different set of rules for President Trump,” McConnell said Thursday.
Schumer has asked for a single resolution that would outline the rules for opening arguments as well as call witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, to testify about the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky. Neither man testified during any of the House impeachment hearings.
In the speech Thursday, McConnell said he wanted the Senate to follow the same rules from the Senate trial of then-President Bill Clinton. Those procedures included an agreement to hear the prosecution and then the defense arguments, and a later vote on whether any other witnesses were necessary.
"He wants to break from the unanimous bipartisan precedent and force an all our nothing approach," McConnell said.
McConnell said he didn't understand Pelosi's motivation in holding the articles back from the Senate.
"I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is from refraining from sending us something we do not want," McConnell said. "But alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain it."
If the Senate trial happens, it most likely won't begin until the new year. McConnell also said Thursday that Senators aren't required to come back to Washington D.C. until Jan. 6, 2020.
"The framers built the Senate to provide stability," McConnell said, adding, "To keep partisan passions from boiling over. The Senate exists for moments like this."
Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that she had no intention of sending the two articles to the Senate until she had confirmation from McConnell about his plans for a trial. She took McConnell to task for his comments about the Founding Fathers' intentions, saying she didn't think they ever "suspected that we'd have a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time" as a rogue president.
The two articles approved by the House on Wednesday charge Trump with abuse of power, which says the president pushed Ukraine into announcing a probe of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid and an official White House visit.
The second article charges Trump for obstructing the House's investigation into those dealings.
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