When the House-approved articles of impeachment finally make it over to the Senate, there will be plenty of fireworks to behold, that’s certain.
The standoff between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will soon be coming to a head, as both politicos jockey for the best footing in the higher chamber’s coming trial. McConnell has long indicated that he is in favor of an ultra-swift trial with little room for witnesses or theatrics.
In Pelosi’s case, she is holding impeachment hostage until such a time as her Senate colleagues can secure at least a few big-name White House advisers to appear on the witness stand.
The tense impasse has gone on for days now without much in the way of movement, but today it appears as though McConnell may have blinked first.
The House voted Wednesday to impeach Trump, who became only the third president in U.S. history to be formally charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But the Senate trial may be held up until lawmakers can agree on how to proceed. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding witnesses who refused to appear during House committee hearings, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and former national security adviser John Bolton.
McConnell, who has all-but-promised a swift acquittal of the president, has resisted making any guarantees, and has cautioned Trump against seeking the testimony of witnesses he desires for fear of elongating the trial. Instead, he appears to have secured Republican support for his plans to impose a framework drawn from the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
“We haven’t ruled out witnesses,” McConnell said Monday in an interview with “Fox and Friends.” “We’ve said let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair.”
It is unlikely that anything will be set in stone before Congress returns to Washington after the first of the year, however, leaving both sides plenty of time to wiggle and writhe.