Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters about the possibility of a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. Congress and President Donald Trump continue to bicker over his demand that lawmakers fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, pushing the government to the brink of a partial shutdown at midnight Friday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Earlier today, Sen. Mitch McConnell gave a speech on the Senate floor that left some liberal sites gnashing their teeth. The claim being that McConnell had announced that he was going to “dismiss” the impeachment charges almost immediately. This was of course spun as proof that McConnell is mailing it in and rigging the process.
McConnell says Republicans will vote to dismiss impeachment charges after opening remarks https://t.co/v1LZfuefio
— Raw Story (@RawStory) December 17, 2019
But is that what McConnell said? In a word, no.
What McConnell is actually doing is rather clever. No, he does not say that he’s going to force through a dismissal of the charges. Instead, he turns Chuck Schumer’s demand to adopt the 1999 rules on its head, suggesting that he agrees.
In 1999 one of things the Senate did at the beginning of the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton was to take a vote on whether to simply dismiss the charges. Ironically, Schumer voted to do so, making his recent rantings about the narrowness of the process incredibly hypocritical. In 1999, the Democrats didn’t want more witnesses. They wanted the trial over before it began and tried to make that happen. The idea that McConnell allowing the very same type of vote would somehow be rigging the process is ludicrous and ignores precedent.
McConnell didn’t stop there though. He then lit into Schumer, who had released a tirade of a letter making various demands of the majority in regards to impeachment a day before.
“It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty,’” McConnell said, a reply to Schumer’s request that the Senate agree to call several Trump administration officials as witnesses for the trial in the same resolution that lays out the impeachment trial’s rules of the road.
McConnell said he still hopes to meet with Schumer but scolded him for releasing his letter to the press before their meeting. Schumer’s letter came after McConnell has repeatedly vowed that the Senate will clear Trump of wrongdoing.
That’s 100% correct. It is the job of the House to gather the evidence, present their case, and vote on it. It is not the Republican Senate’s job to allow yet more “investigation” and new witness testimony, especially when the GOP were shut out of the process previously by Adam Schiff. There is no reason for them to help the Democrats out and to let them dominate the proceedings.
That was the same tact Schumer and his colleagues took in 1999, only allowing three witness testimonies from previous House interviews to be played via videotape. McConnell is following that precedent with a dose of “what goes around comes around.”
In the end, I suspect McConnell will not let a vote to dismiss happen, as he’d be unlikely to get the 60 votes needed and such a failure would come across as legitimizing the Democrats’ charges. Better to let them run into the buzzsaw they are so apt to gouge themselves with by moving toward a full acquittal.