‘Their Turn is Over’: McConnell Rejects Pelosi’s Attempt to Dictate Rules of Senate Impeachment Trial
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Speaking on the U.S. Senate floor on Friday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) emphatically rejected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) procedural gambit to influence and dictate the rules of a prospective Senate impeachment trial.
“Their turn is over. They’ve done enough damage. It’s the Senate’s turn now to render sober judgment,” said McConnell, as reported by Fox News.
Earlier in the speech, McConnell lambasted House Democrats’ “short-term partisan rage,” according to a full copy of the majority leader’s remarks obtained by The Daily Wire:
The Senate will soon have to address some of the deepest institutional questions contemplated by our Constitution. We’ll have to decide whether we are going to safeguard core governing traditions or let short-term partisan rage overcome them. …
McConnell continued, referring to Pelosi’s ultimate decision to delay formal transmission of the House’s articles of impeachment as the fruition a “sad spectacle.”
[U]ltimately House Democrats cared more about attacking President Trump than keeping their promises. So they rushed through a slapdash investigation. They decided not to bother with the standard legal processes for pursuing witnesses and evidence. …
[J]ust before the holidays, this sad spectacle took another unusual turn: As soon as the partisan impeachment votes had finished, the prosecutors began to develop cold feet. Instead of sending the articles to the Senate, they flinched.
That’s right: The same people who’d just spent weeks screaming that impeachment was so serious and so urgent that it could not even wait for due process now decided it could wait indefinitely while they checked the political winds and looked for new talking points.
McConnell concluded: “Their turn is over. They have done enough damage. It’s the Senate’s turn now — to render sober judgment as the framers envisioned. But we can’t hold a trial without the articles. The Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that. So, for now, we are content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder. For now.”
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responded harshly, as also reported by Fox News: “Will we fulfill our duty to conduct a fair impeachment trial of the president of the United States or will we not?” asked the veteran New York politician. “That is most pressing question facing this Senate. The country just saw McConnell’s answer to that question. The answer is no.”
“Never, never in the history of our country has there been an impeachment trial in which the Senate was denied the ability to hear from witnesses, yet the Republican leader seems intent on violating that precedent and denying critical evidence to this body and to the American people,” Schumer eventually added.
As previously noted by The Daily Wire, Pelosi has delayed the formal transmission of House Democrats’ partisan articles of impeachment while she attempts to extract procedural concessions from McConnell and Senate Republicans as to how a prospective Senate impeachment trial is conducted. In a New York Post op-ed last month, I defended the legality of Pelosi’s move while nonetheless castigating her:
Thorny legal issues aside, Pelosi’s gambit lays bare the brazen hypocrisy of the sanctimonious “norm”-worshippers. Most of Trump’s purportedly grievous sins pale in comparison to the destructive and destabilizing nature of Pelosi’s transmission delay — not to mention the unfair and underhanded nature of the proceedings in her own chamber.
The president may not have an explicit constitutional right to a Senate trial. But if Democrats really cared about rule of law and good order, they would have allowed the Framers’ process to unfold as it was supposed to do. Their delay tactics merely expose the frivolity of their Trump-induced mass hysteria.