McConnell-Schumer Standoff Over Impeachment Trial Continues On Senate Floor

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, holds a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, December 17, 2019. - Democrats and Republicans closed ranks Tuesday a day ahead of the exp... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, holds a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, December 17, 2019. - Democrats and Republicans closed ranks Tuesday a day ahead of the expected impeachment of US President Donald Trump, underscoring the country's deep political divide over charges that the US leader abused his power. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 3, 2020 2:04 p.m.

The impasse over how to conduct a Senate impeachment trial was on display on the Senate floor Friday morning, with both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) making their cases for how best to handle the delivery of articles of impeachment from the House.

Schumer has maintained for weeks that he wants the Senate’s trial to include testimony from additional witnesses that weren’t brought before the House during its inquiry — like White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — and documents the White House has failed to provide. His calls for this specific handling of the trial have only escalated in recent days. McConnell argues that the Senate should wait until after the White House attorneys and impeachment managers give their opening testimony on the Senate floor to decide on witnesses.

During a speech from the Senate floor on Friday, McConnell argued the Senate should conduct its trial similarly to the proceedings for the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. He also was quick to jab House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for not yet delivering the articles to the upper chamber, claiming she was trying to control the Senate’s process.

During his remarks on the floor Friday, Schumer pointedly reminded McConnell that witnesses were brought to the Senate during Clinton’s impeachment.

“Leader McConnell’s comparisons to 1999 are hopelessly flawed and inaccurate,” he said. “There were witnesses in 1999, Leader McConnell. You want the precedent of 1999, there were witnesses as there were in every single impeachment trial of a president in history. It would be a break in precedent for there not to be witnesses.”

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