Partisan conflict over the impeachment of President Trump remains the central preoccupation of Washington and the American public discussion. House Speaker Pelosi, having passed two articles of impeachment through the House of Representatives, has refrained from sending them to the Senate for trial in an apparent bid to extract concessions from Senate Majority Leader McConnell on the conduct of the trial.
A PROCESS STALLED IN THE HOUSE
As 2019 draws to a close, the impeachment process, which has impeded much of the government’s business in Washington, has come to loggerheads. In theory, once the House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment, the only obligations left to them were to notify the Senate of their conclusions, appoint “impeachment managers,” and allow the higher chamber to reach a verdict. Since Republicans hold the Senate by a 53-47 majority, and 67 votes are required to convict a President and remove him from office, it is widely believed that President Trump’s acquittal at a Senate trial is a foregone conclusion.
But the Democratic-led House has refrained from naming impeachment managers and handing off the impeachment file to the Senate, and shows no sign of doing so in the immediate future. Explaining the decision, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "The House cannot choose our impeachment managers until we know what sort of trial the Senate will conduct. President Trump blocked his own witnesses and documents from the House, and from the American people, on phony complaints about the House process."
THE POSSIBILITY OF NEW EVIDENCE, AND NEW ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT
Other Democratic leaders have expanded on this complaint, in an apparent bid to extract concessions from Republican leaders as to the nature of the upcoming Senate trial — in the form of additional witness testimony and release of privileged White House documents. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer elaborated yesterday, “What are Senator McConnell and President Trump so afraid will happen if we get all the facts out? Release the emails. Let the witnesses testify.” Schumer subsequently tweeted out a list of documents which Senate Democrats are demanding the White House release before the trial commences.
Shortly afterward, the Democratic legal counsel for the House Judiciary, writing in a court filing on Monday, demanded that White House chief counsel Don McGahn testify before the House held out the possibility of new articles of impeachment, arguing, “If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the putative target of this pressure campaign, has been unmoved by the complaints of his Democratic rivals. "If we go down the witness path, we're going to want the whistleblower. We're going to want Hunter Biden. You can see here that this would be kind of a mutual assured destruction," McConnell warned in an interview with Fox News. "We know how it's going to end. The president is not going to be removed from office.” Responding to complaints about the impartiality of the Republican Senators soon to try Donald Trump, he asked, “Do you think Chuck Schumer is impartial? Do you think Elizabeth Warren is impartial? Bernie Sanders is impartial? So let’s quit the charade. This is a political exercise.”
For his part, President Trump dismissed Democratic demands with characteristic finality: “Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that Republicans in the Senate should handle the Impeachment Hoax in the exact same manner as Democrats in the House handled their recent partisan scam? Why would it be different for Republicans than it was for the Radical Left Democrats?”