President Donald Trump lashed out on Tuesday as his Senate impeachment trial remains at an impasse, with Republican and Democratic leaders at odds over its format and whether witnesses should be called.
Speaking at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, after a teleconference call with troops stationed across the globe, Trump singled out Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is indefinitely holding up sending the articles of impeachment the House passed last week to the Republican-controlled Senate.
“She hates the Republican Party. She hates all of the people that voted for me and the Republican Party,” Trump charged on Christmas Eve. “She’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country.” Trump has long seen a Senate trial, where he is almost certain to be acquitted, as an opportunity for vindication after he became the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached by the House.
We have the majority and now they want McConnell to do wonderful things for them,” Trump complained of Democrats, adding that he will leave it to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do whatever he thinks best.
Hes very smart guy, a very good guy, a very fair guy. But they treated us very unfairly. And now they want fairness in the Senate,” he said.
Pelosi has said she is waiting until she receives more clarity from McConnell about what a trial will look like. He has said he has not ruled out calling witnesses, but has also indicated that he is in no hurry to seek new testimony either.
Meanwhile the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, has countered that any trial without witnesses would be Kafkaesque” and a sham.” Lets put it like this: If there are no documents and no witnesses, it will be very hard to come to an agreement, Schumer said.
Schumer is demanding witnesses who refused to appear during House committee hearings, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.
McConnell, who has all but promised a swift acquittal of the president, has resisted making any guarantees, and has cautioned Trump against seeking the testimony of witnesses for fear of prolonging the trial. Instead, McConnell appears to have secured Republican support for his plans to impose a framework drawn from the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
We haven’t ruled out witnesses, McConnell said in an interview with Fox and Friends. “We’ve said let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair.” That trial featured a 100-0 vote on arrangements that established two weeks of presentations and argument before a partisan tally in which Republicans, who held the majority, called a limited number of witnesses. But Democrats now would need Republican votes to secure witness testimony and Republicans believe they have the votes to eventually block those requests.
In a letter on Monday to all senators, Schumer argued that the circumstances in the Trump trial are different from those of Clinton’s, who was impeached after a lengthy independent counsel investigation in which witnesses had already testified numerous times under oath. Schumer rejected the Clinton model, saying waiting until after the presentations to decide on witnesses would foreclose the possibility of obtaining such evidence because it will be too late.