Having totally whiffed on their opportunity to make a plausible case for impeachment by the Stalinist inquests held by the committees chaired by Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, the Democrats have been left with the rather unpleasant prospect that a Senate trial might very well morph from an impeachment trial of Donald Trump into a public examination of the farcical nature of the Articles of Impeachment.
There are two possible roads the Democrats have to go down: One, a rather fanciful one, was floated by the guy who has been the ‘next Supreme Court justice’ for about 40 years, Laurence Tribe. His idea is that the House can merely pass Articles of Impeachment and then, by some parliamentary sleight of hand, simply not do anything with them in order to prevent the Senate from laughing at them. (See Laurence Tribe Throws Nancy Pelosi a Lifeline by Giving Her an Off-Ramp From Impeachment.)
The other, and most likely, route is to relentlessly attack the GOP for giving impeachment the bum’s rush it deserves and to try to shame the GOP into letting Chuck Schumer call the shots on how the Senate impeachment trial will be managed. Over the weekend, Schumer preemptively released a letter to the media making a series of detailed demands for witnesses and procedures for governing the trial. (READ: Schumer Sends Letter Including Witness Request List for Senate Trial to Mitch McConnell, Good Luck Chuck.) To that end, Schumer held a press conference yesterday which can only be interpreted as his Al Haig moment. (READ: Chuck Schumer Tries to Bully Mitch McConnell Into Surrendering Control of Impeachment, Will It Work?)
At the time, I had some concerns as anyone would who has watched McConnell play Failure Theater for some years. But the fact that John Cornyn was acting pretty aggressive soothed some of the butterflies.
Will Democrats running for President recuse themselves as jurors due to their conflict of interest? Or, instead, will they intentionally use their office to remove a rival, in order to obtain a personal and political benefit? https://t.co/iUVNnPF1V9
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) December 16, 2019
You mean a preferred outcome https://t.co/NANGMQmm2s
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) December 17, 2019
Now we hear that McConnell has rejected Schumer’s demand:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back strongly against Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to simultaneously agree to witnesses and the parameters of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, calling it a “strange request” that breaks with recent impeachment precedent.
“It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty,’” McConnell said, a reply to Schumer’s request that the Senate agree to call several Trump administration officials as witnesses for the trial in the same resolution that lays out the impeachment trial’s rules of the road.
McConnell said he still hopes to meet with Schumer but scolded him for releasing his letter to the press before their meeting. Schumer’s letter came after McConnell has repeatedly vowed that the Senate will clear Trump of wrongdoing.
CNN offers a few more details if they can be believed:
“We don’t create impeachments,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery on the Senate floor. “We judge them.”
“The House chose this road. It is their duty to investigate. It is their duty to meet the very high bar for undoing a national election,” McConnell said. “If they fail, they fail. It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to “get to ‘guilty.’ That would hardly be impartial justice.”
McConnell also said the fact that Senate Democrats want fact witnesses is a sign House Democrats did “sloppy work” in their impeachment inquiry.
“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. The answer is that the House should not impeach on this basis in the first place,” McConnell said.
Unless McConnell folds later on, though it looks like he’s torqued enough about Schumer trying to publicly punk him and undercut his authority that he may cut Schumer out just to prove a point.
If McConnell stands firm, it looks like the impeachment managers will get a chance to describe — or maybe mime given the way things are going — what Trump is supposed to have done and then the Senate will vote on it. No witnesses. No testimony. No muss. No fuss.