- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood firm Tuesday, resisting demands from Democratic lawmakers to negotiate witness testimony ahead of the impeachment trial against President Trump.

It’s been nearly three weeks since House Democrats impeached the president but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has refused to hand over the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial to begin, saying she first wants the Republican-controlled chamber to agree to a fair process. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding witness testimony.

The Kentucky Republican said the speaker’s conduct is “embarrassing,” suggesting she is engaging in a “pretrial hostage negotiation.”

“I have difficulty seeing where the leverage is,” Mr. McConnell said on the chamber floor. “One cynical political game right on top of another.”

Mr. McConnell has insisted on the Senate holding the same rules and procedures for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial that the chamber held for President Clinton.

During the trial in 1999, the House managers presented their case and the president’s legal team was able to respond before the issue of whether to call witnesses was decided.

Democrats, though, want to implement new procedures, demanding former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, among others be called to testify.

“The Speaker of the House is not going to handwrite new rules for the Senate. It’s not going to happen,” Mr. McConnell said.

The Republican conference appears mostly united behind Mr. McConnell — even moderate Republican senators who have said testimony might be needed, but the trial should start before that bridge is crossed.

Mr. Schumer, meanwhile, said the Republican leader’s position is strange. He said the American people want all the facts to come out so the trial can be fair.

“We only want a trial that examines all the facts and let the chips fall where they may,” the New York Democrat said. “The American people want witnesses and documents.”

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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