Senators from both sides of the aisle appeared optimistic Sunday a deal would be reached by party leaders to hold an impeachment trial in the Senate once lawmakers return after the holidays.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer failed to reach a negotiation last week over the rules and procedures for the likely trial, with Democrats demanding that the chamber call witnesses.
Mr. McConnell, though, is insisting President Trump have the same impeachment process afforded to President Bill Clinton, in which the Senate agreed to hear from the House managers presenting their argument supporting the articles of impeachment and allow the president’s team to respond before the senators wrestle with the issue of witnesses.
“I think there will be an agreement, and this trial will go forward,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat and a 2020 presidential hopeful, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
All the negotiations, though, remain at a standstill while lawmakers are away for the holiday break, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hangs onto the articles of impeachment passed Wednesday charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The California Democrat said she is waiting to pass the charges to the Senate until she is satisfied that procedures will produce what she and other Democrats call “a fair trial” — with more witnesses. Democrats have said they want to hear from Mr. Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and his former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, among others.
But Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said, “I frankly don’t think the speaker has the right to do this.”
“Once the House has spoken, the speaker doesn’t get the decision as to whether or not she transmits that decision to the Senate. In my view, I think we will have this all handled once we get back in January,” Mr. Blunt told CNN.
Mr. Schumer also renewed his call for witnesses Sunday, tweeting about a newly discovered email he says bolsters the need for more testimony against Mr. Trump.
The New York Democrat has called for the Office of Management and Budget’s Michael Duffey to answer questions about Mr. Trump’s conduct.
On Sunday, Mr. Schumer said 91 minutes after the president’s call with the Ukrainian president where he asked for a corruption probe into a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Mr. Duffey sent an email requesting a hold on the funds.
The email Mr. Schumer shared to Twitter is dated July 25, and notes the “sensitive nature of the request” and asks for the “information to be closely held.”
“If there was ever an argument that we need Duffey and others to testify & we need the documents we requested — this is it. This email is explosive,” Mr. Schumer tweeted.
His deputy, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said it is fair for Mrs. Pelosi to dictate to the Senate the requirement of more evidence, mainly more witnesses and documents, saying the procedures for Mr. Clinton’s impeachment trial more than two decades ago were decided upon after an extensive invitation by special counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
“We don’t have that in this situation,” Mr. Durbin told CNN.
Mr. Trump’s impeachment inquiry was handled by House Democrats — not a lengthy special counsel probe. Republicans charged the House could have gone to court to get more evidence but decided to rush the process.
The inquiry was launched about three months ago after a whistleblower came forward accusing the president of withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for a probe into Mr. Biden, suggesting he is abusing his power as president for personal gain.
Recent polls suggest the public is on the side of the Democrats in the fight over whether more evidence — specifically witnesses — should be presented at trial.
A Morning Consult poll surveying 1,387 voters on Dec. 19 revealed 54% think the Senate should call more witnesses. The results had an error margin of 3 percentage points.