McConnell: Senate has votes to proceed without Democrats in impeachment trial

The vote would be similar to the Clinton trial, but would not have Democratic support

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for the weekly Senate Republican policy lunch Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arrives for the weekly Senate Republican policy lunch Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 7, 2020 at 2:48pm

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he has the votes required to establish ground rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, without support from Democrats.

McConnell first made the comments during a closed-door GOP lunch before confirming in a public announcement.

“We have the votes, once the impeachment trial has begun, to pass a resolution essentially the same, very similar to the 100-0 vote in the Clinton trial,” McConnell said.

Unlike the Clinton case, the Senate would be split along party lines with McConnell’s proposal. Democrats want a deal upfront to hear from witnesses and get access to documents, but under the Clinton model, a decision on seeking that additional testimony would be made later in the process.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate since the House passed them in late December. 

“It’s time for Speaker Pelosi to get on with it or get out of the way,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Tuesday.

In a Dear Colleague letter sent to members of her caucus late Tuesday, Pelosi signaled she wants McConnell to share text of the Republican resolution that would set the rules for the first phase of the impeachment trial before she transmits the impeachment articles to the Senate.

“It is important that he immediately publish this resolution, so that, as I have said before, we can see the arena in which we will be participating, appoint managers and transmit the articles to the Senate,” Pelosi wrote.

Only four Republicans would need to stray for McConnell to lose the majority vote needed to move ahead with impeachment trial procedures, but he and other top Republicans were confident Tuesday that the Senate GOP would be united.

Several Republicans have said they want to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton, but they are backing McConnell’s plan for starting the trial without a promise of witness testimony.

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