Senate Majority Mitch McConnell took to the chamber floor Tuesday to say the only high crime and misdemeanor committed by President Trump was his defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, pushing back against House Democrats’ charges in the “nonsense impeachment.”
“That is the original sin of this presidency — that he won and they lost,” Mr. McConnell said.
The Kentucky Republican pointed the finger at House Democrats, arguing they were the ones to abuse power, saying they pursued the only partisan impeachment in American history due to their hatred of this president and fear they cannot beat him in the next election.
“The impeachment power exists for a reason. It is no nullity, but invoking it on a partisan whim to settle three-year-old political scores…it insults the framers’ design,” he said.
Mr. Trump was impeached on a party-line vote by House Democrats on Dec. 18, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, stemming from a July phone call with the Ukrainian president where Mr. Trump requested a probe into his political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden while withholding financial aid to Ukraine.
The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday to acquit Mr. Trump of the charges.
Mr. McConnell said it was the first impeachment by the House of Representatives that was “unbound by criminal law,” saying the charge of obstruction of Congress is “nonsense” because executive privilege has always been litigated in impeachment proceedings.
He said the Senate carried out a fair process, unlike what was done in the House.
“We have indeed witnessed an abuse of power,” Mr. McConnell said. “We must vote to reject the House abuse of power. Vote to protect our institutions.”
Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, took to the floor immediately, saying Mr. McConnell was repeating Republican talking points and said a fair trial would have only been conducted if they would have heard from more witnesses and documents — the key complaint from Democrats throughout the impeachment proceedings.