Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks to the Senate Chamber, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks to the Senate Chamber, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

McConnell blasts House impeachment, pledges Senate action

House impeached Trump on two charges—abusing his power and obstructing Congress—stemming from his pressure on Ukraine

The top Senate Republican on Thursday denounced the “most unfair” House impeachment of President Donald Trump and reassured Trump and his supporters that “moments like this are why the United States Senate exists.”

Signalling in the strongest terms yet that the GOP-controlled Senate will acquit Trump, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declared that the House impeachment “risks deeply damaging the institutions of American government.”

As for what the Senate should do, the Kentucky Republican said, “It could not be clearer which outcome would serve the stabilizing, institution-preserving, fever-breaking role for which the United States Senate was created and which outcome would betray it.”

McConnell described Trump’s impeachment as “the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

Fighting back and using McConnell’s own words, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York then said on the Senate floor that the Republican leader was plotting the “most rushed, least thorough and most unfair” impeachment trial in history by declining to agree to call witnesses including former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, who declined to testify before the House.

“McConnell claimed the impeachment was motivated by partisan rage,” said Schumer. “This from the man who said proudly, ‘I am not impartial.’”

“What hypocrisy.”

McConnell accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of being afraid to send “their shoddy work product to the Senate” after she threw uncertainty into the impeachment process late Wednesday by refusing to say when she would send two impeachment articles to the Senate for a trial.

READ MORE: President Donald Trump impeached by U.S. House on two charges

He said the Democratic-controlled House “has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future.”

The House impeached Trump on two charges—abusing his power and obstructing Congress—stemming from his pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rival as he withheld U.S. aid

McConnell said the two articles failed to meet the constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanours and that the House simply impeached a political foe for an abuse of power offence that isn’t considered a crime.

“The framers built the Senate to provide stability,” McConnell said. “To keep partisan passions from boiling over. Moments like this are why the United States Senate exists.”

A trial in the Republican-controlled Senate would almost certainly result in Trump being acquitted of the charges.

In a news conference late Wednesday after the impeachment vote, Pelosi declined to say when she would send the articles to the Republican-led Senate. Until the articles are submitted, the Senate cannot hold the trial.

McConnell was meeting later Thursday with Schumer to begin negotiations on how to conduct next year’s Senate trial. The two leaders have a tense relationship and McConnell holds a tactical edge if he can keep his 53-member Senate majority united.

A day after his impeachment, Trump was quick to lash out at Pelosi.

“Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. He claimed the timing of the trial was up to the Senate, and that if Democrats didn’t transmit the articles of impeachment “they would lose by Default!”

But there is no constitutional requirement on Pelosi to send them swiftly – or at all.

Pelosi said House Democrats could not name impeachment managers — House prosecutors who make the case for Trump’s conviction and removal from office — until they know more about how the Senate will conduct a trial.

“We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,” Pelosi said. “And I would hope that that will be soon. … So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully it will be fair. And when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”

McConnell rejected a proposal earlier this week from Schumer, D-N.Y., to call several witnesses. McConnell also said that he is co-ordinating with the White House and declared that “I am not an impartial juror.”

Pelosi said that McConnell “says it’s OK for the foreman of the jury to be in cahoots with the lawyers of the accused. That doesn’t sound right to us.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham blasted Pelosi’s move that would potentially delay the Senate trial, where she said Trump was sure to get a “fair shake” compared to the House.

In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Grisham said Pelosi’s announcement was “Just another gimmick and more changing of the rules.”

Asked again if she could guarantee that she would send the articles to the Senate, Pelosi said at the news conference: “That would have been our intention.” But they will see what the Senate decides, she said.

“We are not having that discussion. We have done what we set out to do,” Pelosi said.

Complicating any decision to delay are House Democrats’ arguments in recent weeks that Trump’s impeachment was needed “urgently,” arguing his actions were a threat to Democracy and the fairness of the 2020 election.

Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, said after her remarks that Democrats want impeachment proceedings that are “judicious and responsible and deliberative.”

He said that while Senate will decide its own procedures, “the speaker’s only point is before she sends it over she needs to understand what that is” because it will influence who the impeachment managers are.

Asked about never sending the articles over, Cicilline said, “I would not speculate that anyone’s even contemplating that.”

Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.

Mary Clare Jalonick, Laurie Kellman And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

Sue Hodgson returns as publisher of the Peninsula News Review starting June 1. (Courtesy Sue Hodgson)
Peninsula News Review welcomes back Sue Hodgson as publisher

Dale Naftel takes helm of Oak Bay News as publisher

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Jackson Peters picks, plays and sings on Willows Beach. Peters likes to tour parks in Greater Victoria to practice his music and enjoy the outdoors. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Beach weather strikes in Oak Bay

Willows hosts those looking to swim, play volleyball and build sand castles

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

(File)
With revenge porn on the rise in 2021, B.C. seeks feedback for new legislation

New legislation could help victims take down images and receive compensation

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read