Friday, December 20, 2019

Two Can Play At That Game

“Oh pfft,” Pelosi told POLITICO, waving her hand dismissively when asked about McConnell’s suggestion she was “too afraid” to send him the articles of impeachment against Trump, which would trigger a Senate trial on whether to oust the president.
Pelosi has refused to commit to sending over the articles of impeachment until McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reach an agreement on ground rules for the trial. But she has also downplayed the idea that she will delay the trial as long as possible, saying she’s merely waiting to see what kind of deal the two Senate leaders can reach before she formally transmits them across the Capitol.

Yeah, about that:

“Because my friend, the Democratic leader, continues to demand a new and different set of rules for President Trump,” the Republican senator continued. “He wants to break from that unanimous bipartisan precedent and force an all-or-nothing approach.”

McConnell also indicated that he was unswayed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) decision to delay sending over the House’s articles of impeachment to the Senate until she sees how the Senate trial process will shake out.

“Some House Democrats imply they’re withholding the articles for some kind of leverage so they can dictate the Senate process to Senators,” McConnell said. “I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want.”

Except Trump wants it very, very badly:

But privately, Trump is still harboring a desire to create a flashy, testimony-filled trial, fueled by a belief that such an approach would vindicate him and embarrass Democrats, according to six people familiar with the situation, including three who have spoken with the president.

And all Pelosi is trying to do is give Trump what he wants:

“This is an impasse,” host Camerota began. “John has described it as a game of poker between these two stellar poker players, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, but there’s a joker in the deck who might mess things up. Can we stay in this limbo indefinitely?”

“I think it’s Pelosi is effectively driving a wedge between Mitch McConnell and the president,” he added. “Mitch McConnell’s equity here is his senators, protecting those six vulnerable senators: Martha McSally, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner. The president’s equities are he wants to do a vindication tour. He wants to go around like he did after the election 2016 and say, ‘see, I was right. I’m exonerated.’ And Pelosi has figured out a way to drive that wedge.”

“Just as importantly, she’s keeping the issue of these live witnesses alive as long as she can. That is a very popular idea,” he added.
And Chuck Schumer knows it:

Schumer was asked by TPM whether, if he did reach an agreement on witnesses, he’d be willing to wait for a court fight if those witnesses refused to testify.

“We’ll have to see how that’s pursued,” Schumer said. “We have to look, legally, how quickly it could happen and everything else. We don’t want to delay this unnecessarily, but at the same time we don’t want to, on something as solemn and serious as this, if there is serious testimony, we ought to make every effort to get it.”

The House chose not to wait for courts to enforce their impeachment inquiry subpoenas, once the administration announced it was stonewalling them. Republicans have jumped on that decision to argue the House rushed through the process.

Now, Schumer is requesting that the Senate call four top Trump administration officials to testify for its trial. He wants an agreement with McConnell on witness and document subpoenas before the trial starts. McConnell, meanwhile, has argued that the decision on witnesses should wait until after the Senate has proceeded through the first few stages of the trial, as was done in the 1999 impeachment of President Bill Clinton. More broadly, McConnell is pushing for a short trial — but if Democrats can get four Senate Republicans to agree with their demand for witnesses, they will be able to overrule that preference.

“I will ask for votes for each of these witnesses and these documents,” Schumer said Thursday, noting the Senate impeachment rules that would allow such a vote to be called. “Our colleagues should know they are going to be asked to vote on these things.”

Among the witnesses Schumer is requesting is former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has signaled through his lawyer his willingness to testify for the impeachment proceedings — but only if Congress gets a court order backing its request for testimony over the President’s directive for non-cooperation.

“We”ll have to wait and see. Maybe Bolton will change his mind,” Schumer said, while bringing up a claim by Bolton’s lawyer that he has information to share with Congress that’s not publicly known. “It’s very important to have him come testify.” 

It's more likely John Roberts will decide who testifies and who doesn't, but Schumer is signaling the delay tactics Trump used against the House, will not be to his benefit in a Senate trial.  Will McConnell again say this is something the Senate doesn't want?

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