Mitch McConnell's proposed impeachment trial rules seem built to block witnesses and evidence the House collected during the impeachment inquiry.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released impeachment trial rules Monday night with a built-in mechanism for both blocking witnesses from testifying about Donald Trump's alleged abuse of power and blocking evidence the House collected during the impeachment inquiry.
The rules McConnell laid out require a full Senate vote to call witnesses as well as simply admit the evidence the House already collected into the trial.
Because Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, at least four GOP lawmakers out of the current 53 senators would have to buck their party leadership to allow witnesses and evidence to be allowed at trial — a rare occurrence for anything in the Senate, let alone a heated impeachment trial.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called McConnell's impeachment trial rules a "national disgrace," and said in a statement that it's "clear Senator McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through."
"Senator McConnell is saying he doesn't want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn't want to hear any new evidence," Schumer said. "A trial where no evidence - no existing record, no witnesses, no documents – isn’t a trial at all — It's a cover up."
Not only that, McConnell's trial rules allow each House manager just 24 hours of time over two days to make their case that Trump abused the power of the presidency by trying to force Ukraine into investigating his political rivals. That could push the trial into the wee hours of the morning — when most Americans are sleeping rather than paying attention to the news.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed McConnell's attempt to conduct the trial in the dead of night, as well as what she described as "unreasonable time restrictions on critical phases of the trial."
"Leader McConnell's plan for a dark of night impeachment trial confirms what the American people have seen since Day One: the Senate GOP Leader has chosen a cover-up for the President, rather than honor his oath to the Constitution," Pelosi said in a statement. "Shamefully, this sham proposal does not even allow for admitting the House record into evidence at the trial."
The House impeachment managers also held a news conference Tuesday morning in which they said the rules McConnell laid out are akin to a "rigged trial."
Ultimately, McConnell appears to want to acquit Trump before he is slated to deliver the State of the Union address on Feb. 4.
The Senate will vote on whether to pass the impeachment trial rules McConnell drafted on Tuesday afternoon. The rules are expected to pass on a party line vote, according to Politico.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.