WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday slammed House Democrats’ drive to impeach President Donald Trump as “the most rushed, least fair, and least thorough” in history and said he will vote to acquit Trump.
McConnell said the two impeachment charges against Trump — that he abused his power and obstructed Congress’ ensuing investigation — are “constitutionally incoherent” and don’t “even approach a case for the first presidential removal in American history.”
The Kentucky Republican opened the Senate with a scathing assessment of the case presented by House Democrats, but he did not address whether Trump’s actions were inappropriate or wrong, as some Senate Republicans have conceded.
McConnell has dodged question about whether Trump’s actions — pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into Trump’s political rival Joe Biden — were inappropriate. He led a drive last week to deny Democrats any opportunity to call witnesses before the Senate, and he has worked closely with the Trump White House in shepherding the case through the Senate.
McConnell argued that “concerns about whether the president’s motivations were public or personal, and a disagreement over whether the exercise of the power was in the national interests” are not enough to remove a president.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York weighed in immediately after McConnell’s remarks, accusing the Republican leader and his GOP colleagues of sweeping Trump’s misconduct under the rug.
“The administration, its top people and Senate Republicans are all hiding the truth,” Schumer said. The charges are extremely serious. To interfere in an election, to blackmail a foreign country, to interfere in our elections gets at the very core of what our democracy is about.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the two impeachment articles Wednesday afternoon. Trump is delivering his State of the Union address Tuesday night, a platform in which he appears before Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the powerful House speaker who orchestrated last year’s House impeachment drive.
Trump is virtually certain to be acquitted, and no member of either party has indicated yet that they will break with their party colleagues. Republicans hold 53-47 majority. A vote by two-thirds of the chamber would be necessary to convict Trump.