- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2019

With the impeachment trial caught in partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, Sen. John Kennedy is concerned about the American people losing faith in the proceedings.

“I don’t want [the public] saying, ‘Well, we were run over by the same truck twice. It was unfair in the House and it was unfair in the Senate,’” the Louisiana Republican said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I want people to think it was a level playing field.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has refused to send the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, lays out how he will run the trial.

Republicans, including Mr. McConnell, have scoffed at Mrs. Pelosi.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise on Sunday suggested the California Democrat need to “run for the Senate if she wants to be a senator.”

“It’s our duty to turn [articles of impeachment] over,” Mr. Scalise told “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s not like some mechanism she can control.”

The Democrats’ impeachment centered on a July phone call Mr. Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he requested a probe into a political rival while withholding aid and allegations of 2016 election interference.

She and fellow top Democrat Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer are demanding that more documents and White House officials that were blocked in the House investigation be allowed to testify.

Mr. McConnell, on the other hand, said last week there could be witnesses, but only after opening arguments are made. In the meantime, he said the entire process is stalled until the Senate has the articles.

President Trump, for his part, would like to call witnesses such as former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and the whistleblower who weren’t allowed to be interviewed in the House investigations.

Mr. Biden, initially opposed to cooperating with the trial, tweeted on Saturday that he would comply with a duly authorized subpoena.

“But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial,” he added.

Neither side has made much headway toward a deal since the standoff started two weeks ago, and it’s unlikely there will be a breakthrough until Congress returns from its holiday break in early January.

House Democrats, so far, are united behind the speaker.

“I think the speaker is doing everything she can to ensure that there is as fair and open and transparent a process as there can be, particularly given the weight of the evidence,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, on CNN.

“You don’t go through the first part in the House and then just tee this up for a Senate process where the guy who is going to be in charge of orchestrating the entire Senate trial has said that the whole thing is already baked and cooked and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. You don’t go and do that. That makes a mockery of the entire system,” he added.

Among Republicans, there are some who shared Democrats’ concerns about how the impeachment trial will be handled. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has said she is “disturbed” that Mr. McConnell is working so closely with the White House.

Mr. Kennedy defended the GOP leader, saying every senator’s opinion is valid because there is no clear cut legal precedent for a political process like impeachment.

“It’s not a criminal trial. The Senate is not a jury. It’s both jury and judge,” he said. “There’s no rules here.”

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