Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted the House’s impeachment of President Trump as illegitimate on Thursday and appeared to signal that the upper chamber may dismiss the case outright.
But after a long speech that seemed to be crescendoing toward an explicit pledge to dismiss the impeachment charges, he avoided announcing any actual plan for the Senate. It remains unclear if the Senate will hold a traditional trial on the articles of impeachment when they are sent over from the House.
“The Senate must put this right,” McConnell said, speaking from the Senate floor for the first time since impeachment passed the House Wednesday evening. “We must rise to the occasion. There’s only one outcome that is suited to the paucity of evidence, the failed inquiry, the slap-dash case, only one outcome suited to the fact that the accusations themselves are constitutionally incoherent. … Only one outcome will preserve core precedence rather than smash them into bits in a partisan rage because one party still cannot accepts the American people’s choice in 2016.”
“It could not be clearer which outcome would serve the stabilizing, institution preserving, fever breaking role for which the United States Senate was created and which outcome would betray it,” he continued. “The Senate’s duty is clear. The Senate’s duty is clear. When the times comes, we must fulfill it.”
McConnell repeatedly argues the "Senate's duty is clear" but doesn't explicitly say what that "duty" will be pic.twitter.com/zFEwXZCzqz
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) December 19, 2019
McConnell spent the majority of his speech bashing House Democrats for, as he claimed, giving into the “temptation” of impeaching a president for political purposes and “cheapening” the impeachment process. He also suggested that Democrats were “too afraid” to give their “shoddy work product” to the upper chamber.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated on Wednesday evening that she likely will not send the articles to the Senate until the Senate’s plan is clear. McConnell has said he will rubber stamp any plan the White House wants the Senate to pursue, but Trump himself has openly admitted that he wouldn’t mind a long trial.