Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday shot down Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to call witnesses and agree on the details of President Trump’s impeachment trial, calling it a “strange request” that breaks with precedent.
“It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty,’” McConnell said in his reply to Schumer’s request that the Senate agree to call several top Trump administration officials as witnesses in the same resolution that lays out the impeachment trial’s procedural rules.
“If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Senate,” he said.
McConnell said he still hopes to meet with Schumer but knocked him for releasing his letter to the press before their meeting.
Schumer took to the Senate floor to respond moments after the Kentucky Republican spoke.
“I listened to the leader’s speech. I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony,” he said. “Why is the president so afraid to have these witnesses come testify? What are they afraid the witnesses would say?”
“I’d like to hear Leader McConnell come to the floor and give specific reasons why the four witnesses we’ve asked for shouldn’t testify,” he continued, suggesting they could provide information that would help the president’s case.
In a letter released Sunday, the New York Democrat asked that at least four witnesses, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, be subpoenaed to testify in the expected impeachment trial.
Schumer’s letter came after McConnell repeatedly promised that the Senate would clear Trump of wrongdoing.
Schumer also proposed that a Mulvaney adviser, Robert Blair, and a budget official, Michael Duffey, also appear.
Trump is expected to become the third president to be impeached when the full Democratic-led House of Representatives votes on the charges, likely this week, setting up a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The president has denied wrongdoing and lambasted the proceedings as a “scam,” “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
With Post wires
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