Senate Republicans Push Rule Change to Dismiss Impeachment

WASHINGTON (CN) – Senate Republicans introduced a resolution Monday that would amend the rules to allow them to dismiss President Donald Trump’s articles of impeachment, without any debate, if the House of Representatives does not transfer them for trial before next week.

“If, following adoption of such articles, the House of Representatives does not so notify the Senate or otherwise provide for such articles to be exhibited to the Senate within 25 calendar days from the date of adoption of such articles, as recorded in the Journal of the House of Representatives, such articles shall be deemed exhibited before the Senate and it shall be in order for any Senator to offer a motion to dismiss such articles with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute such articles,” the two-page resolution proposes.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asks a question during a January 2019 hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

“Such motion shall be adopted by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Senators, duly chosen and sworn, without debate by the yeas and nays, which shall be entered on the record,” it continues.

Introduced by Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., the maneuver marks the latest attack in a game of congressional volleyball with Trump’s articles of impeachment approved last month for abusing his power and obstructing Congress.

Minutes after her party’s decisive impeachment vote on Dec. 18, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled to reporters that she would not be in any rush to transfer the newly passed articles to the Senate.

Hawley called the delay incompatible with the Democrats’ messaging about Trump’s threat to the constitutional order.

“Speaker Pelosi started this bogus impeachment by claiming President Trump was an urgent ‘threat to democracy’ who had to be removed now,” he wrote in a statement. “But after a bipartisan vote against the articles in the House, and with the public opposed to the Democrats’ partisan games, Pelosi has changed her tune. Now she wants to prevent a Senate trial, perhaps indefinitely.”

The Missouri Republican’s statement had a blend of exaggeration and misrepresentation: The public opinion website FiveThirtyEight’s composite of all polling on impeachment shows support for it by a roughly three-point margin, and the supposed bipartisan opposition to impeachment consisted of three Democrats who broke ranks – not counting Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who voted present.

The House’s only independent, Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan, voted in favor of impeaching Trump.

For the Democrats, the partisan games over impeachment started when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced his plan of total coordination with the White House, avoiding any more witnesses or evidence-gathering before pushing Republicans toward a speedy vote for acquittal.

Just before the holiday recess, Pelosi told reporters that any talk of the Senate trial would be premature before they know what it will look like.

“The next thing for us will be when we see the next process that is set forth in the Senate: Then we’ll know the number of managers that we’ll have, and then we’ll know who we will choose,” she said the morning after Trump’s impeachment.

Roughly a dozen Republicans co-sponsored Hawley’s resolution, which comes the same day that the party received some friendly fire from a key impeachment witness.

Ambassador John Bolton, who avoided testifying before the impeachment inquiry for months as his deputy fought a House subpoena in court, made a dramatic pivot Monday in declaring that he would not oppose any call by the Senate to put him in the hot seat.

Prior testimony showed that Bolton’s testimony could be damning for Trump.

Former National Security Council official Fiona Hill testified that Bolton abruptly ended a White House meeting with Ukrainian officials after ex-Ambassador Gordon Sondland brought up the subject of investigating Trump’s political opponent.

Shortly after that July 10 meeting, Bolton told Hill: “You go and tell [National Security Council adviser John] Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and [acting White House Chief of Staff Mick] Mulvaney are cooking up.”

Hill also testified that Bolton described Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as a “hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.”

McConnell did not respond to the development in a statement or in his leadership speech before the Senate this afternoon, instead accusing Democrats of treating impeachment like a “political toy.”

Bolton had been one of four witnesses requested by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – and summarily rejected by McConnell for weeks.

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