WASHINGTON (CN) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell likened Democrats to prosecutors getting cold feet on Thursday morning, ridiculing the possibility that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will delay the next step of President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Rebuking Democratic leaders in both branches of Congress, McConnell proclaimed that any attempt to remove Trump from office will be unsuccessful.
“The failure was made clear to everyone earlier this week when Senator Schumer began searching for ways the Senate could step out of our proper role and try to fix the House Democrats' failures for them,” McConnell said, referring to his rejection of Schumer's request for additional witnesses.
“And it was made even more clear last night when Speaker Pelosi suggested that House Democrats may be too afraid, too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate,” McConnell asserted.
The Senate majority leader has rejected the traditional role of an impeachment trial as a fact-finding mission, and he proudly preordained an acquittal for the president, pre-emptively renouncing any oath — mandated by congressional rules — to serve as an impartial juror.
The idea of holding up the articles gained traction earlier this week when Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe wrote an editorial in the Washington Post that said Democrats should withhold the articles of impeachment as a bargaining chip, hanging an unresolved stain over the president’s head, to get concessions from McConnell on a fair trial.
Minutes after a majority-Democrat vote impeached Trump on obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, Pelosi signaled to reporters that those ideas could be taking root in the Democratic party, in some form.
Pelosi said Wednesday night that, before selecting managers to facilitate transferring the articles over to the Senate, she would wait for input from McConnell on how a trial there will unfold.
McConnell indicated earlier this week that the trial could commence Jan. 6. He also stated outright that he plans to coordinate with the White House on the specifics of trial procedures where senators will serve as jurors and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside as judge.
Pelosi reiterated her concerns about a fair trial in the Senate both last night and this morning, with those spearheading the process openly strategizing how to steer the case to the acquittal. But the speaker's wait-and-see approach before taking the next steps has drawn strong blowback from Republicans and the press.
Stung by the criticism, the speaker delivered a two-pronged defense of her approach Thursday — based on practicality and precedent — that she told reporters would serve as her final words, for now.