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Impeachment: McConnell, Schumer at impasse on Trump's Senate trial

In a rebuttal Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the McConnell a "rogue Senate leader."

By UPI Staff
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Impeachment: McConnell, Schumer at impasse on Trump's Senate trial
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor Thursday to address Wednesday's impeachment of President Donald Trump. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Senate leaders on Thursday couldn't agree on terms for the trial of President Donald Trump, one day after he became the third U.S. leader to be impeached by the U.S. House.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he was at an impasse with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer after the two met to discuss the upcoming proceedings.

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Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell said he wants the proceedings to follow that of the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton. In that case, the prosecution presented arguments, followed by the defense. Then there was a vote to determine whether to hear from witnesses.

But Schumer has said he wants to ensure the Senate hears from witnesses not interviewed in the House.

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"We remain at an impasse, because my friend, the Democratic leader, continues to demand a new and different set of rules for President Trump," McConnell said.

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Schumer said Trump should call McConnell and tell him to let his aides testify and ask chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to release relevant documents.

"Democrats want a fair trial that examines the relevant facts," Schumer tweeted. "We want a fair trial.

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"But the message from Senator McConnell, at the moment, is that he has no intention of conducting a fair trial."

McConnell promised that the Senate will now provide stability after "radical faction" Democrats in the House bowed to "partisan rage" and impeached Trump.

He said Wednesday's historic impeachment "did not reflect what has been proved" and said it showed "only how [Democrats] feel about the president."

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"The Senate must put this right," he said.

The Republican-held Senate, he promised, will fill the "fever-breaking role" intended for the chamber by the nation's founders to answer two "constitutionally incoherent" articles of impeachment adopted Wednesday night.

McConnell called the House proceedings "rushed" and the evidence "slapdash," and accused Democratic leaders of setting their sights on impeachment before Trump was even inaugurated.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday indicated House Democrats might not be in any rush to commit to sending the articles over to the upper chamber. The Senate cannot begin its trial of Trump until it receives the articles, which can remain active for years. And the Democrats could conceivably hold onto them for as long as they want, as the U.S. Constitution doesn't specify a timetable for turning them over.

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That brought a mocking rebuke from McConnell during his floor speech. Pelosi, he declared, was "too afraid" to send over the articles because of a weak case.

"It's like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second-guessing whether they even want to go to trial," he said.

Pelosi's move was viewed by some as a possible play to highlight McConnell's declaration that he doesn't plan to be impartial at trial and that he'll work closely with Trump and White House counsel on their defense. It might also aim to motivate him -- as most Americans want -- to agree to include a handful of witnesses from the Trump administration at the Senate proceeding.

During her weekly press briefing Thursday, Pelosi again remained non-committal about when she would name case managers and send the articles to the Senate for trial, saying she would wait until the Senate determined how the trial would proceed before House leaders settled on the number of case managers "and who we will choose" for the task.

In an evident reference to McConnell's admitted impartiality, which would conflict with the oath he must take as a member of the Senate trial, Pelosi called him a "rouge Senate leader."

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"It reminded me that when our founders wrote the Constitution they speculated there could be a rouge president, but they didn't expect we'd have a rouge president and a rouge Senate leader at the same time," she said.

Pelosi, House intelligence committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff and judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler all said Wednesday they aren't holding onto the articles as much as they're just trying to get an idea of the Senate's plan so they can name managers for the next step.

"The Republicans are united like never before!" Trump tweeted Thursday.

"I got Impeached last [night] without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. Now the Do Nothing Party want to do nothing with the articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it's Senate's call!

"If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by default!"

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Protesters march in support of President Donald Trump being impeached Tuesday in New York City's Times Square. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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