Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the House vote to transmit the articles of impeachment on Wednesday to the upper chamber marks four weeks since House Democrats claimed they urgently had to impeach the president, raising questions about the truth of their claims and the case against President Trump.
The Kentucky Republican said House Democrats failed to establish a factual record strong enough to bring a case, so they have been demanding the Senate call more witnesses to fill in their incomplete work.
“They plowed ahead for two reasons. They said impeachment was too urgent to wait and they said they had already proven their case but since then House Democrats have spent four weeks contradicting both of those claims,” Mr. McConnell said Tuesday.
He said the past month during the impasse where Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to transmit the charges to the Senate has demonstrated that impeachment is not that urgent and House Democrats do not actually have much confidence in their charges.
“This was a predetermined political conclusion. Members of her caucus had been promising it literally for years,” Mr. McConnell said.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, and her fellow Democrats delayed transmitting the articles, saying the Republican-controlled chamber must guarantee a fair trial and agree to call witnesses during pretrial negotiations.
Republicans, though, have said they will follow the same procedure the chamber followed in 1999 for President Clinton’s trial. During that process, the House managers presented their case and the president’s legal team had a chance to respond before the issue of witnesses was debated.
House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump on Dec. 18, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, stemming from a July phone call with the Ukrainian president where he requested a probe into a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, though, continued to demand four witnesses he says have direct knowledge about Mr. Trump’s call, including the president’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
The New York Democrat said past impeachment trials for presidents have had witnesses, noting President Johnson had 41 witnesses at that impeachment trial in 1868.
“A fair trial has witnesses,” Mr. Schumer said. “A fair trial seeks the truth.”
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