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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he had enough support from his fellow Republicans to set the rules for Trump’s impeachment trial without a commitment to hear from witnesses.
United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Sunday that Republicans will pay a political price for denying President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial with witnesses, as House Democrats will determine on Tuesday when to send formal charges to the Senate.
Pelosi has delayed delivery of the charges for weeks to compel Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to agree to include new witness testimony and evidence about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to probe former Vice President and Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.
However, on Jan. 7 McConnell announced he had enough support from his fellow Republicans to set the rules for Trump’s impeachment trial, without a commitment to hear from additional witnesses, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
McConnell has previously said there is “no chance” the Senate will convict and remove Trump and that he would work in “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s defense team.
“We’ve got the votes necessary to start the trial using the Clinton model, which is good news,” Senator Lindsey Graham said, referring to an arrangement made during the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton after Republicans and Democrats were similarly deadlocked over the question of witness testimony.
Graham said at least 51 of the 53 Republicans in the Senate were backing that plan.
On Dec. 18, Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives formally charging him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third head of state to be impeached in the country’s history.
However, this in itself does not remove the president immediately from office; as it is similar to an indictment thus it is essentially the statement of charges against the chief executive.
The impeachment now sets the stage for a trial in the Senate, controlled by Republicans, on whether to convict or acquit him, a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction.
The proceedings began on Sept. 24 as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal inquiry, resulting from a whistleblower’s allegations that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden.
The whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community ledged a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, resulting in the Ukraine scandal.
The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer, which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.
Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.