It appears that it’s the White House that is working in “total coordination” with Sen. Mitch McConnell’s impeachment strategy — not the other way around.
President Donald Trump had repeatedly expressed a desire for senators to turn the tables and subject Joe and Hunter Biden to intense questioning, but he is now on the same page with Republican senators eyeing a fast trial, the Washington Examiner reported. McConnell (R-KY) announced Tuesday that he had the votes to begin a trial without any deal with Democrats on witnesses.
“The president’s view is that this is a scam and the sooner we get it behind us and on to the real work of the American people, the better,” a Republican source said.
White House, Senate leaders agree
If true, then Trump’s change of heart would essentially close the book on any plans to investigate the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine as part of the highly publicized impeachment process. President Trump and his Republican allies have long sought to have the Bidens testify about Hunter’s work at a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, and Joe Biden’s role in having a prosecutor fired who had investigated that enterprise.
But as Democrats flounder to make their case against the president, there is a feeling that Trump would best be served by dismissing the case and moving on with as little ceremony as possible. Gradually, Republican lawmakers have begun lining up behind Mitch McConnell’s plan to hold a trial with few, if any, witnesses — and Trump is reportedly in agreement.
Trump is eager to move on, especially with tensions rising in the Middle East, sources told the Examiner. Speculation of war is brewing after the U.S. killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, which prompted vows of reprisal from the Islamic Republic.
McConnell has the votes
President Trump had previously expressed a desire to “immediately” face trial so he could directly answer charges that he abused his power to interfere in the 2020 election. The president coveted the opportunity to exonerate himself and have the Bidens, as well as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the whistleblower, whom he repeatedly attacked throughout months of impeachment proceedings, squirm over their own involvement with Ukraine and his impeachment.
But Democrats called those witnesses a distraction — and with time, Republicans acceded to a fast, no-witness trial. It may not necessarily come at the expense of Trump at this point, who probably has more to lose than gain by playing into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) spectacle of delay.
Pelosi has refused to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate as Democrats accuse McConnell of staging a cover-up, but the Republican leader has blithely dismissed complaints of unfairness as little more than partisan noise. The stalemate has placed impeachment on an indefinite hold, but McConnell announced Tuesday that he has the votes to get the Senate trial started without any preceding agreement on requests for witnesses, Fox reported.
Time to move on
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has sought to use newly released Trump administration emails, as well as John Bolton’s sudden agreement Monday to testify if subpoenaed, to pressure McConnell into accepting additional witnesses including Bolton and White House Office of Management and Budget Director and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. It’s still possible that witnesses will appear, a White House official said, just not at the beginning of the trial.
“All Republicans are pretty much now on the same page that House Democrats bumbled it, and so the best move for everyone is to start the trial, have each side’s lawyers make the case, and then see at that point if there are witnesses to be called,” a senior Republican official told the Examiner.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a resolution Monday to dismiss the impeachment outright due to the Democrats’ failure to prosecute the articles. The winds are clearly blowing in favor of moving on quickly — and after months of tedious impeachment theater, that can’t happen soon enough.