‘Mutually Assured Destruction’: McConnell, WH Privately At Odds Over Senate Trial

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) answers questions during a press conference following a weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol on December 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. McCo... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) answers questions during a press conference following a weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol on December 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. McConnell answered a range of questions related primarily to the ongoing impeachment proceedings against U.S. President Donald Trump, and continued funding of the federal government. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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December 17, 2019 9:14 a.m.

President Trump has publicly and privately offered conflicting signals about what he wants out of a Senate impeachment trial, stating in public that he would be open to something short or long. In private, he has told aides he’d like the ability to call witnesses on his behalf, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and White House aides are reportedly trying to convince the President that a quick acquittal is the best route to take. But Trump is convinced that a longer trial might give him the opportunity to expose the whistleblower whose initial report on his call with Ukraine launched the impeachment inquiry. That thinking is at odds with what McConnell has privately expressed.

According to the WSJ, in a meeting with Senate Republicans last week, McConnell thinks bringing in witnesses would be a mistake, both because it would prolong proceedings but also might complicate Senate Republicans reelection efforts.

“Mutually assured destruction,” Mr. McConnell told his colleagues.

Republican senators are wary of ignoring Trump’s wishes, but the majority of those who spoke to WSJ said allowing witnesses to speak, and possibly reveal new information, might make it more difficult to acquit Trump.

While privately McConnell may have concerns, publicly he’s painted a picture of uniformity. During an appearance on Fox News last week, McConnell explicitly said the Senate would deliver whatever the White House wanted for the impeachment trial.

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