Congress

McConnell says he can’t completely prevent an impeachment trial

Duration, however, is ‘a whole different matter’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was pushing for the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated on Monday that he is bound by Senate rules to take up articles of impeachment if they are presented by the House.

“Under the Senate rules, we’re required to take it up if the House does go down that path, and we’ll follow the Senate rules,” McConnell said. “It’s a Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change.”

That makes clear that he does not expect to have a path to use the “nuclear option” to set a new precedent to stop a trial with just a simple majority, effectively bypassing the rules.

Speaking on CNBC, the Kentucky Republican was dismissive of speculation that he might try to change the rules to stop the impeachment process.

“The Senate impeachment rules are very clear,” McConnell said.

He said, however, that, “how long you’re on it is a whole different matter.”

That points to the ability of majority Republican senators to set ground rules for the trial or to potentially adopt a motion to dismiss any charges against President Donald Trump during the early stages of a Senate trial.

McConnell was appearing to push Speaker Nancy Pelosi to take up the proposed new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, known as USMCA.

“What I want to do is spend our time accomplishing things for the American people,” McConnell said, touting an opinion piece he co-authored in Monday’s Wall Street Journal with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

“We think that we ought to be  able to do more than just create controversy here,” McConnell said.

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