Washington — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a request from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the Senate to hear from four top White House officials during a potential impeachment trial, calling it a "strange request" and an effort to have the Senate "do House Democrats' homework for them."
"The Senate is meant to act as judge and jury, to hear a trial, not to re-run the entire fact-finding investigation because angry partisans rush sloppily through it," McConnell said in a speech from the Senate floor Tuesday.
McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said the evidence compiled by House Democrats during the course of their impeachment inquiry "appears to be woefully inadequate to prove what they want to allege." He suggested Schumer's request is an indication that the Democratic leader may believe "House Democrats' slapdash impeachment inquiry has failed to come anywhere near the bar for impeaching" President Trump.
Schumer sent a letter to McConnell on Sunday laying out a proposed framework for an impeachment trial in the Senate. The New York Democrat suggested Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the proceedings, issue subpoenas compelling four administration officials to testify: acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair, and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey.
All four of the men had been asked to testify before the House but did not appear.
McConnell noted in his remarks that House Democrats chose not to ask the courts to force White House aides to testify, and said that decision is "why the House is poised to send the Senate the thinnest, least thorough presidential impeachment in our nation's history."
"The House chose this road. It is their duty to investigate. It is their duty to meet the very high bar for undoing a national election," he said. "As Speaker Pelosi herself once said, it is the House's obligation to, quote, 'build an ironclad case to act.' End quote. If they fail, they fail. It is not the Senate's job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to 'get to guilty.' That would hardly be impartial justice."
McConnell's remarks came as the House Rules Committee was set to meet to discuss the parameters for debate on the House floor over two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump. A vote on the House floor is expected to take place Wednesday.
The Senate has blocked off the full month of January for a possible impeachment trial, though the details of how long the proceedings will last and whether any witnesses will appear remain unclear.