U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans have not ruled out calling witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
“We haven’t ruled out witnesses,” McConnell told “Fox & Friends.” on Monday. “We’ve said, ‘Let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton.’ Fair is fair.”
Last week, the top Republican lawmaker dismissed calls by Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer to hear from four officials during a Senate impeachment trial, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The officials had refused to testify during the House impeachment inquiry of the president.
On a near straight party line vote, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against Trump last Wednesday, making him only the third U.S. president to be impeached in the country’s 243-year history. He is accused of abusing the power of the presidency to benefit himself politically and then obstructing congressional efforts to investigate his actions.
The allegations stem from a July call with Ukraine’s president in which Trump asks for an investigation into one of his chief political rivals.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate or choose impeachment prosecutors until the Senate agrees on rules governing the process.
The Senate is not authorized to begin a trial until it receives the articles from the House.
Trump lashed out at Pelosi Monday, tweeting that she “gives us the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress, and now she is crying for fairness in the Senate, and breaking all rules while doing so. She lost Congress once, she will do it again!
Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong in his push to get Ukraine to investigate one of his chief 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden and, his son Hunter Biden’s lucrative work for a Ukrainian natural gas company. Trump had also called for a probe into a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.
Trump made the appeal for the Biden investigations at a time when he was temporarily withholding $391 million in military aid Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. president eventually released the money in September without Zelenskiy launching the Biden investigations, proof, Republicans have said, that Trump had not engaged in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal, the military aid in exchange for the Biden probe.
Trump has on countless occasions described his late July call with Zelenskiy as “perfect,” when he asked him to “do us a favor,” to investigate the Bidens and Ukraine’s purported role in the 2016 election. As the impeachment controversy mounted, Trump has subsequently claimed the “us” in his request to Zelenskiy referred not to him personally but to the United States.