Report: Mitch McConnell ready to begin impeachment trial without witness deal

Despite having passed two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump in December, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is still refusing to send them to the Senate for a trial. She and others in her party are holding out for the production of new documents and the calling of new witnesses during the next phase of the process.

However, making a deal on the terms under which a Senate trial will be conducted isn’t something in which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has any interest, as he has reportedly secured enough votes within his own caucus to proceed without first reaching an agreement with Democrats.

Speaking from the Senate floor on Friday, McConnell explained that the Senate “can’t hold a trial without the articles. The Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that,” he added.

“So, for now,” he continued, “we are content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder.”

Collins and Murkowski on board

Further, if those articles are sent, then McConnell won’t need help from Democrats when it comes to setting trial rules. That became apparent after two moderate Republicans recently made their position on calling witnesses clear.

The Hill quoted Sen. Susan Collins of Maine as saying that “the Clinton approach worked well,” a reference to the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.

“The process moved to a period during which the Senate debated and voted that three witnesses should be deposed,” she added.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made a similar statement, saying: “I think we need to do what they did the last time they did this unfortunate process and that was to go through a first phase and then they reassessed after that.”

“Get to the first step first”

“I want to get to the first step,” Murkowski told reporters when asked about the possibility of Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, providing testimony at trial, something he recently signaled a willingness to do. “The first step is trying to get articles of impeachment which we haven’t gotten yet.”

“So, there’s a lot of people that want to hear a lot of things, but you got to get to the first step first,” she continued.

Collins concurred with that assessment, declaring: “I think it’s difficult to decide in isolation before we have heard the opening statements.”

She added: “There are a number of witnesses that may well be appropriate for Stage 3, of which [Bolton] would certainly be one.”

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