McConnell could nix vote on a motion to dismiss to protect vulnerable GOPers
As Trump tweeted this weekend that he wants the Senate to immediately dismiss the charges against him, Senate Majority Leader McConnell is likely not to mandate a vote to dismiss at any point in the process to protect politically vulnerable Republicans.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.,— a key senator to watch in this process along with four other moderate Republicans: Romney, Collins, Murkowski and Gardner— said Monday evening that he would not vote on a motion to dismiss because he wants to decide if he wants to hear from witnesses.
"I would vote against the motion to dismiss. I think we need to hear the case; Ask your questions. Then as they did in the Clinton impeachment we ought to decide then whether we need to hear from additional witnesses or need additional documents. So a motion to dismiss is not consistent with hearing the case," Alexander told NBC News.
There is little appetite from politically vulnerable Republicans to cast a vote that looks like they are dismissing the charges against the president, which is what a motion to dismiss would do.
"It's pretty clear to me that this is no longer about convicting and removing Donald Trump as president. This is about Chuck Schumer getting 2020 Republican incumbents in two tough voting situations. So I think recognizing that that's his goal, I think it won't surprise you that we're thinking about that too, and how to avoid that as much as possible," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and McConnell confidante said.
McConnell: Pelosi holding onto articles 'achieved absolutely nothing'
McConnell opened the Senate floor on Monday speaking about impeachment, saying Pelosi "may finally wind down her one-woman blockade of a fair and timely impeachment trial," adding he’s "glad the speaker finally realized she never had any leverage in the first place."
He said Pelosi holding the articles "achieved absolutely nothing," instead accidentally conceding that their "case is rushed, weak and incomplete." He also reiterates that the "Senate was never going to pre-commit ourselves to redoing the prosecutors' homework" for the House.
"The House has done enough damage, the Senate is ready to fulfill our duty."
Pelosi accuses Trump of a 'cover-up' after president lashes out over impeachment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused President Donald Trump of a cover-up on Monday after he lashed out at Democrats in tweets calling his impending Senate impeachment trial a "witch-hunt."
"In the Clinton impeachment process, 66 witnesses were allowed to testify including 3 in the Senate trial, and 90,000 pages of documents were turned over," Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted in a direct response to the president. "Trump was too afraid to let any of his top aides testify & covered up every single document. The Senate must #EndTheCoverUp."
Earlier Monday, Trump accused Pelosi and other House Democrats of hypocrisy over the issue of calling witnesses, claiming they are demanding "fairness" in the Senate trial but did not allow the White House its choice of witnesses or the opportunity to ask questions of those who were called to testify in the House inquiry.
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Schiff says he hopes public pressure will nudge Republicans toward calling witnesses
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Monday that he hopes public pressure to have a fair impeachment trial will put pressure on moderate Senate Republicans in the Senate to insist Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., call key Trump administration witnesses.
"If we had merely rushed the articles over there and given McConnell the chance to sweep it under the rug before the country can be informed about the kind of non-trial he wanted to have, I think it might have led to a different result," Schiff said on ABC's "The View," defending the Democrats' approach to the impeachment process. "At least we have the prospect now of holding senators accountable and insisting on a trial with witnesses.
"If McConnell succeeds in dismissing this case without witnesses, it will be the first impeachment case — not just involving a president, but involving anyone in the nation's history — in which a trial went forward without witnesses," he added.
Democrats have been calling for testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton and others who they say have firsthand knowledge of President Donald Trump's actions toward Ukraine.
Schiff also said House Democrats are considering whether to subpoena Bolton, who has said he would testify if issued such an order. But the Senate should hear from Bolton directly rather than through a House deposition, Schiff said, adding that he is skeptical Bolton would agree to appear before House lawmakers.
"Our goal is to have a fair trial in the Senate, to let the senators evaluate the evidence," he said.
How Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the politically charged Trump impeachment trial
It's a duty John Roberts undoubtedly doesn't want but cannot avoid.
The Constitution requires that when a president is put on trial for impeachment, "the Chief Justice shall preside." Roberts will be the third to assume that responsibility after Salmon P. Chase presided over the Senate trial of Andrew Johnson in 1868 and William Rehnquist oversaw the trial of Bill Clinton in 1999.
It won't take Roberts more than a few minutes to get to the U.S. Capitol, directly across the street from the Supreme Court, leaving the court that he seeks to run in a nonpartisan manner and entering the highly charged political atmosphere of the Senate. But the televised image of him seated in the presiding officer's chair will be a misleading one: He'll actually have little control over what goes on.
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ANALYSIS: Could Democrats be better off without impeachment witnesses?
Democrats may want to be careful what they wish for in demanding witnesses in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial.
That's the warning some party strategists are sending as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., prepares to send two articles of impeachment and a roster of House prosecutors to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., later this week.
"Given where things stand right now, there's only one smart solution: Get out of this as quickly as possible," said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, former chief of staff for Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
The tension lies not in the facts of the case but in the politics of convincing voters that Trump is unfit for the presidency before November's election. Democrats are certain that the president violated his duty to the country and equally sure that there's zero chance that the necessary two-thirds of the Senate — a share that would require 20 or more Republicans — will vote to remove him from office.
Does the value of witnesses outweighs the risks for Democrats? Read the full analysis.