Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued from the Senate floor Thursday morning that the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair” in modern history.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, laid out in his remarks why he thinks the two House-passed articles of impeachment against Trump are “fundamentally unlike any articles that any prior House of Representatives has ever passed.”
He accused Democrats of backpedaling, referring to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request to him for witness testimony and new documents in the Senate trial, saying that his Democratic counterpart “began searching for ways the Senate could step out of our proper role and try to fix House Democrats’ failures for them.”
McConnell also took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s noncommitment to sending the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, saying that “Pelosi suggested that House Democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate.”
The Constitution’s framers “built the Senate to provide stability … to keep partisan passions from boiling over,” McConnell said, adding, “Moments like this are why the United States Senate exists.”
In her opening remarks at her weekly news conference – which came after McConnell’s remarks — Pelosi did not offer much additional detail about what House Democrats’ next steps would be now that they have voted to impeach Trump.
“The next thing for us will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate, then we’ll know the number of managers that we may have to go forward and who we will choose,” Pelosi said. She added later, “When we see what they have, we will know who and how many we will send over. That’s all I’m going to say about that now.”
Schumer immediately followed McConnell’s remarks and reiterated his call for witnesses in the Senate trial, asking, “Can none of the President’s men come defend him under oath?”
“To my Republican colleagues: our message is a simple one. Democrats want a fair trial that examines the relevant facts,” Schumer said. “We want a fair trial. The message from Leader McConnell, at the moment, is that he has no intention of conducting a fair trial, no intention of acting impartially, no intention of getting the facts.”
The deeply divided House of Representatives, voting almost entirely along party lines, took the historic step to impeach Trump on Wednesday night, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and making him the third president in US history to be impeached.
The Senate trial is expected to begin next month. McConnell said Tuesday that he is “not an impartial juror,” arguing that the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry has been a “political process” and that there is “not anything judicial about it.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju contributed to this report.