WASHINGTON – The standoff over President Donald Trump's impeachment trial deepened Wednesday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there will be “no haggling” with Democrats as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demands for more details and witnesses.
McConnell's Senate majority has the leverage Republicans need to launch Trump's trial toward swift acquittal of the charges, but Pelosi's reluctance to transmit the articles of impeachment leaves the proceedings at a standstill.
What started as a seemingly minor delay over process and procedures is now a high-stakes showdown between two skilled leaders facing off over the rare impeachment trial, only the third in the nation's history.
“There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure,” said McConnell, R-Ky., who met later Wednesday with Trump at the White House. “We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats' turn is over.”
The impeachment timeline is complicating the political calendar, with the weekslong trial now expected to bump into presidential primaries. Several Democratic senators are running for the party nomination.
The showdown is expected to be resolved this week, lawmakers said.
Pelosi wants McConnell to “immediately” make public the details of his trial proposal, according to a letter to colleagues. She wants to know how much time will be devoted to the trial and other details about the “arena'' before announcing her choice of House managers to try the case in the Senate, according to Democrats familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.
“Sadly, Leader McConnell has made clear that his loyalty is to the President and not the Constitution,” Pelosi wrote to colleagues late Tuesday. She said the process he is outlining is “unfair.”
McConnell, who has resisted calling new witnesses, expects a speedy trial that will end with Trump acquitted of the charges.
He complained about Pelosi's “endless appetite for these cynical games'' and said it will be up to senators to decide if they want more testimony.
On the Senate floor Wednesday, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer promised he would force votes on witnesses, requiring senators to choose whether they want to hear from Trump former national security adviser John Bolton and others.
“When the Senate has votes on witnesses and documents, my Republican colleagues will have to answer to not just the president,” Schumer said. “The American people do not want a cover-up.”
Schumer, who talks daily with Pelosi, said the speaker is doing “a very good job and she is seeking to maximize our ability to get facts and evidence.”