Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, right, arrive to speak to reporters following a closed-door strategy session that included Vice President Mike Pence, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Not even Never-Trumper Chris Wallace thinks that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will cave in to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demands. On Friday, the “Fox News Sunday” host said, “People have lost a lot thinking Mitch McConnell was gonna bend to anybody’s will, but that seems to be Nancy Pelosi’s gambit at this point.”
I posted about the extraordinarily effective speech McConnell delivered on Thursday morning in response to the previous night’s vote to impeach the President here. Later that day, he met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had referred to McConnell’s earlier address as a “30-minute partisan stem-winder,” Afterward, McConnell returned to the Senate floor to report that the two had failed to reach an agreement.
McConnell appeared to be confident, in-charge, and slightly amused (even just a little bit smug) by the Democrats’ attempt to dictate the terms of the Senate trial.
McConnell told lawmakers he’d had a “cordial” meeting with “his friend from New York,” but that Schumer insists on “departing…departing from the unanimous bipartisan precedent that 100 senators approved before the beginning of President Clinton’s trial.”
He described the two-stage approach which “all 100 Senators endorsed” in 1999, explaining that the first stage involved “laying the groundwork for rules on matters such as opening statements” and the second concerned addressing “mid-trial questions such as witnesses.” He said Schumer had demanded a “special pre-trial guarantee of certain witnesses whom the House Democrats, themselves, did not bother to pursue as they assemble their case.”
Here is the best part. With a slight smile on his face, the majority leader said, “Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the [impeachment] articles for some kind of leverage. I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain. Meanwhile, some House Democrats seem to be suggesting they’d prefer never to transmit the articles. Fine with me.”
Following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of the situation, urgent situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet. Democrat prosecution seems to gotten cold feet, and to be unsure about whether they even want to proceed to the trial, like I said, a very unusual spectacle. And in my view, certainly not one that reflects well on the House.
So we’ll see, we’ll see, whether House Democrats ever want to work up the courage to actually take their accusation to trial. Let me close with this, Mr. President. I am proud the Senate came together today to confirm more well-qualified nominees and pass major legislation for the American people.
The Senator’s remarks and demeanor suggest he will not acquiesce to Pelosi’s demands. Following the vote, she told reporters, “We’ll make a decision… as we go along. We’ll see what the process will be on the Senate side.” These antagonistic, arrogant remarks have likely made him less willing than ever to give her a victory.
Aside from Pelosi’s obvious fear of what a Senate trial might reveal about the origins of their case against the President, she seems to think the power she wields in the House extends to power over the Senate. She is mistaken. Mitch McConnell will not be held hostage to her demands.
Putting aside the grave injustice of what Pelosi is trying to achieve, there is a personal dimension at play here as well. A fight over power. And Pelosi craves power, above all. Although it’s nowhere near the size of Pelosi’s, McConnell certainly has an ego. He won’t allow himself to be humiliated on the world stage. And the world is watching.