Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters following the final vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been playing this game that she wouldn’t turn over the articles of impeachment to the Senate unless they agree to witnesses that the Democrats want to have in a Senate trial.
Whether or not Pelosi really wants to move along the articles is a question.
But now the Republicans are calling her bluff anyway. McConnell had already told her that he wasn’t going to comply with her request.
Now the word is he has the votes behind him to proceed with the trial without agreeing to anything with Pelosi. They would decide on witnesses only after the articles are turning over and only after hearing the House Democrats and then the White House present their respective cases, and not before, in accordance with the Clinton model.
The people who Democrats would have needed, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) are reportedly siding with McConnell on sticking to the Clinton model of the process.
From The Hill:
Collins told reporters at Monday evening votes that the Senate should follow the 1999 precedent and consider the question of subpoenaing additional witnesses and documents only after House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team present their opening arguments.
She noted in a statement Monday that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) adopted a resolution in 1999 to set out the rules for the proceeding that didn’t include any agreement for specific witnesses to testify.
“The process moved to a period during which the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed. I believe that this process — the Clinton approach — worked well,” she said.
Murkowski also agreed. She said that any witnesses should only be discussed after they got the articles and after that process.
“I think we need to do what they did the last time they did this unfortunate process and that was to go through a first phase and then they reassessed after that,” she told reporters. “We don’t have anything to get to? So do you have any interesting news for me on that? Like when we might be able to get articles?” she said.
This basically kills any hope that Pelosi or Schumer had because they would need those two plus more to get a vote to require witnesses before they proceeded.
This puts the ball back in Pelosi’s court to either come across with the articles or be seen as the one blocking the constitutional process. And the Senate Republicans might also bypass her, as House Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has threatened, if she doesn’t come across with the articles.