Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spent months attempting to bring his entire caucus, including moderates, together in support of an impeachment procedure that would allow the chamber to move forward with a trial framework while ignoring Democrat leaders’ requests.
On Tuesday, McConnell told reporters he has the votes to pass the procedure.
Politico described McConnell’s ability to keep his caucus in line amid impeachment as a “win,” adding:
It took just a few hours for McConnell and Senate GOP leaders to clinch a final whip count in support of moving forward with a trial framework that ignores Democratic requests [for more witnesses and new evidence]. And all 53 Republicans — even moderates such as Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah — have agreed to the majority leader’s proposal, according to senators involved in the process.
McConnell had spent months cultivating his caucus to get to this point. And after McConnell told his colleagues of his plans at the GOP’s weekly lunch, he went out and told a media horde the same.
Three Democrats joined all Republicans in voting against impeachment, with one voting only for the first article.
Republicans have described demands that House Democrats say must be met before allowing the GOP-controlled Senate to proceed with the impeachment process as a ploy to dictate how the Republicans should conduct the trial of President Donald Trump.
Pelosi refuses to hand over the articles of impeachment to the Senate to allow proceedings to continue until the GOP meets some demands made by her and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
The Speaker is demanding the assurance of a fair trial in the Senate. Schumer, meanwhile, is asking for the deposition of new witnesses and the introduction of more evidence.
The Republican minority made similar requests during the process in the Democrat-led House, to no avail.
Referring to the Republicans’ ability to start the Trump impeachment trial with no Democratic input by approving the impeachment trial procedure once Pelosi sends over the articles of impeachment, McConnell told reporters Tuesday: “We have the votes … With regards to getting the papers, it is a rule of impeachment in the Senate that we must receive the papers, it continues to be. My hope [is] the Speaker will send them right over [this week].”
After repeatedly arguing that the impeachment of Trump was a matter of vital national interests, now Pelosi is sitting on the articles, preventing the process from moving forward.
The Senate majority leader told reporters.
The House argued that this was an emergency — they needed to act quickly. The president was such apparent from their point of view [chuckles] that they needed to rush this through, and then they sit on the papers now for three weeks. I hope that will end this week.
House Democratsbegan their impeachment inquiry at the end of September, a little over a year before the 2020 presidential elections.
Keeping his caucus together granted McConnell the leverage he needed to block Schumer’s demands.
From the Senate floor on Tuesday, Schumer reportedly proclaimed:
Make no mistake: On the question of witnesses and documents, Republicans may run, but they can’t hide. There will be votes at the beginning [of the trial] on whether to call the four witnesses we’ve proposed and subpoena the documents we’ve identified. America, and the eyes of history, will be watching what my Republican colleagues do.
Impeachment is expected to have an impact on the upcoming 2020 elections. It remains unclear whether it will benefit Democrats or Republicans.
The Republican-led Senate is expected to clear Trump of any wrongdoing. It would benefit Trump and lawmakers up for re-election in November 2020 to conclude the Senate process as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Republicans in both the House and the Senate remain united against impeachment.
While most Democrats support Pelosi’s position to hold on o the articles until McConnell commits to a fair trial, the Speaker’s decision has backfired, making it easier for Republicans to persuade their vulnerable colleagues to join their anti-impeachment stance.