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Mitch McConnell mocks Nancy Pelosi's talk of a GOP impeachment 'cover-up'

Louisville Courier-Journal logo Louisville Courier-Journal 1/14/2020 Morgan Watkins, Louisville Courier Journal
Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell © J. Scott Applewhite, AP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell on Tuesday mocked the idea that he and other Senate Republicans would be conducting a "cover-up" if they outright dismiss the impeachment case against President Donald Trump or bar witnesses from testifying.

Whether new witnesses will be permitted in Trump's impeachment trial is a key conflict between McConnell and Congress's top Democrats. But the Senate majority leader dismissed the argument that his chamber has a responsibility to secure fresh documents and witnesses the House didn't procure during its impeachment inquiry last year.

"Here's how deep we have come into bizarro world: The latest Democratic talking point is that if the Senate conducts a trial based on what the House itself looked at, we'll be engaged in a cover-up," McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday with a quiet laugh.

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"Did you get that?" he asked. "Unless the Senate steps outside our lane and takes it upon ourselves to supplement the House case, it's a cover-up?"

McConnell: Pelosi's 'strange gambit' with holding impeachment articles from Senate failed

McConnell's comments came a couple of days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned in a television interview that dismissing the case against Trump outright or refusing to allow witnesses to testify during the forthcoming trial would be seen as a cover-up.

Pelosi also told ABC News program "This Week" on Sunday that McConnell and other senators will be accountable for how they handle this trial and stressed that the House's decision to impeach Trump carries a historic weight that can't be ignored.

"We have confidence in our case ... and this president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell," she said.

Pelosi has been holding onto the articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, saying she first wanted to learn more about how the Senate will conduct the trial. But it appears the House is set to vote Wednesday to send the articles to the Senate, which will allow the trial to finally begin.

McConnell suggested Tuesday that impeaching Trump primarily serves a political purpose for Democrats.

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In a reference to Pelosi's TV interview, he said: "Last weekend, on television, the speaker bragged that 'this president is impeached for life' regardless of what the Senate does ... as if the ultimate verdict were sort of an afterthought."

Concerning the witness issue, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate's No. 1 Democrat, has tried and failed to get McConnell to agree, up front, to allow certain witnesses, such as Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, to appear during the trial. 

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Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky's other senator, said this week on Twitter that if witnesses Democrats want to hear from are allowed to testify, then witnesses he and other Republicans desire also should be permitted.

"My colleagues can’t have it both ways," Paul tweeted Monday night. "Calling for some, while blocking others. If we are going to give a platform to witnesses the Dems demand, I look forward to forcing votes to call Hunter Biden and many more!"

Trump is accused of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election by pressuring the president of Ukraine to publicly promise to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and his son, Hunter Biden.

McConnell has maintained that senators shouldn't determine whether to allow witnesses until after opening arguments have been heard in the trial, and he recently said he has enough votes among the Senate's Republican majority to ensure that's what happens.

"If a House majority wants to impeach a president, the ball is in their court, but they have to do the work. They have to prove their case," McConnell said Tuesday. "Nothing, nothing in our history or our Constitution says a House majority can pass what amounts to a half-baked censure resolution and then insist that the Senate fill in the blanks."

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Mitch McConnell mocks Nancy Pelosi's talk of a GOP impeachment 'cover-up'

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