After Saying ‘I’m in No Hurry,’ McConnell Supports Rule Change to ‘Allow Dismissal’ of Impeachment Articles

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), just weeks ago, was asked about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to withhold articles of impeachment. He said, “I’m in no hurry.” On Thursday, McConnell supported Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) resolution to change Senate rules and “allow dismissal of articles of impeachment for failure to prosecute.”

McConnell was joined by 12 other Republican Senators, including Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Hawley introduced the resolution on Monday, saying, “Speaker Pelosi started this bogus impeachment by claiming President Trump was an urgent ‘threat to democracy’ who had to be removed now. But after a bipartisan vote against the articles in the House, and with the public opposed to the Democrats’ partisan games, Pelosi has changed her tune.”

“Now she wants to prevent a Senate trial, perhaps indefinitely. But the Constitution gives the Senate sole power to adjudicate articles of impeachment, not the House. If Speaker Pelosi is afraid to try her case, the articles should be dismissed for failure to prosecute and Congress should get back to doing the people’s business,” he continued.

Well, McConnell is now on board with that.

Earlier in the week, McConnell announced that he had to votes to begin President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial without agreeing to Democrats’ demands that the proceedings include witness testimony of John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and Office of Management and Budget officials.

He said the rules would essential mirror those governing the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.

“We have the votes once the impeachment trial has begun to pass a resolution essentially the same to the 100-0 vote in the Clinton trial which sets up, as you may recall, what could best be described as a phase-one which would include obviously arguments from the prosecution, arguments from the defense, and then a period of written questions,” McConnell said Tuesday following a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans.

Based on that announcement, the Senate will not decide whether to hear from witnesses until after the chamber hears opening arguments from House impeachment managers and attorneys representing President Trump.

Pelosi, she says, has delayed transmitting the articles and electing impeachment managers because she wants assurances that the Senate will conduct a fair impeachment trial that includes witness testimony.

Over the last day or so, some Democratic lawmakers have said (and then regretted saying) publicly that Pelosi should send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

On Thursday, Pelosi said, “No, I’m not holding them indefinitely. I’ll send them over when I’m ready, and that will probably be soon.”

Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.

[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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