Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday he still hopes four Republican senators will join Democrats in demanding key witnesses for a “fair” trial as Congress returns from the holiday recess still embroiled in a standoff over how to proceed with the impeachment of President Trump.
Mr. Schumer said he doesn’t expect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pry loose documents or testimony from White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton and others, so he’s banking on Republicans to force his hand as they weigh whether to remove Mr. Trump.
“We have the ability to require votes on the four witnesses we’ve asked for, whether there’s agreement or not. We have the ability to ask for the documents and I hope, pray, and believe there’s a decent chance that four Republicans will join us,” the New York Democrat told ABC’s “This Week.”
Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said Mr. Schumer is making unreasonable demands that break from the precedent set by President Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, though Mr. Schumer says this time is different, since Congress hasn’t been able to hear from firsthand witnesses.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to transmit the impeachment articles after pre-Christmas votes to impeach Mr. Trump over his interactions with Ukraine, saying she wants the Republican-led Senate to agree to fair terms. It’s unclear how much longer she will wait, though lawmakers have said they don’t expect an indefinite pause.
Senior Democrats said the holiday delay did produce new information about Mr. Trump’s decision to hold up military aid to Kyiv, while “flushing out” GOP senators who are uneasy with the leadership’s close coordination with the White House.
“I think that Speaker Pelosi has done a very good job here,” Mr. Schumer said. “She has said that she will send the articles of impeachment when she believes she will maximize sending them to get the fairest trial possible. If she had sent them right away, McConnell could have well just voted for dismissal the day before or after Christmas.”
Rep. Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the delay exposed Mr. McConnell’s push for “total coordination” with the White House in prepping for the trial.
“The American people needed to see that, and now they do,” said Mr. Schiff, California Democrat.
At least one Senate Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said she was “disturbed” by the Mr. McConnell’s comments.
But Mr. McConnell on Friday said that Democrats’ reluctance to deliver articles of impeachment to the Senate revealed their hypocrisy.
He claimed that Senate Democrats were coordinating political strategy for impeachment with Mrs. Pelosi, whom he dubbed “the prosecution,” while crying foul about Mr. McConnell’s discussion of “trial mechanics” with the White House, which he identified as the defendant.
“This is nonsense,” Mr. McConnell said. “[A]bout this fantasy that the speaker of the House will get to hand-design the trial proceedings in the Senate, that’s obviously a nonstarter. What I’ve consistently said is pretty simple: The structure for this impeachment trial should track with the structure of the Clinton trial.”
Mr. McConnell said Friday that senators first should address logistical questions about things such as briefs and opening arguments and later look to resolve questions about witnesses.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, spent his Christmas vacation in Florida deeming the impeachment process a waste of time, citing his overwhelming approval among the Republican Party and his efforts to bolster the economy and military while tangling with Iran.
“As hard as I work, & as successful as our Country has become with our Economy, our Military & everything else, it is ashame [sic] that the Democrats make us spend so much time & money on this ridiculous Impeachment Lite Hoax,” he tweeted Saturday. “I should be able to devote all of my time to the REAL USA!”
• Ryan Lovelace contributed to this report.
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