Just minutes after the House released testimony confirming a likely quid pro quo between the Trump Administration and Ukraine, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) told reporters that he will “withhold judgement on the daily revelations, charges, witnesses, and all the rest,” until the case reaches the Senate.
McConnell’s comments came as Senate Republicans held a press conference to criticize Democrats for filibustering military funding and to warn Americans of the dangers of Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for All proposal.
“This issue is still in the House, they’ve only just last week voted to take it up. It was noteworthy that not a single Republican voted to open this inquiry in the House,” McConnell said. “For myself, I’m not going to start commenting on all of these episodes that occur on a daily basis . . . it seems to me they still are not providing the kind of basic due process rights that were provided both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. They can’t even get the process right. Beyond that, we’ll wait until we get it here.”
McConnell said he would likely meet with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer to agree on a process to set up the trial, which will be presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
“We’re not allowed to speak when we’re in open session, which I’ve suggested might be good therapy for some of our members,” McConnell said. “The only time I can recall during the Clinton trial that we talked, we went into private session and had some deliberation. How long it goes on is undetermined, in the Clinton impeachment it went on for a couple of months, but that’s up to the Senate to decide, how long.”
When asked, McConnell did not confirm whether he thought the identity of the initial whistleblower in the Trump impeachment inquiry should be protected.
The question of whether the whistleblower’s identity should be made public has divided Republican senators. During a Trump rally in Kentucky on Monday night, McConnell’s Senate colleague Rand Paul said that “the whistleblower needs to come before Congress as a material witness . . . I say tonight to the media: do your job and print his name.” On Tuesday, other Republicans, including Mitt Romney (R., Utah) disagreed. “Whistleblowers should be entitled to confidentially and privacy, because they play a vital function in our democracy,” Romney said.
McConnell concluded the Q&A by saying he did not think that the Senate would vote to impeach based on the evidence that’s been compiled to date. On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland implied in revised testimony that a potential meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as nearly $400 million in military aid, was contingent on the announcement of an anti-corruption probe into 2016 election interference and Burisma Holdings, the firm which employed Hunter Biden.
“I’m pretty sure on how it is likely to end. If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question it would not lead to a removal,” McConnell stated. “The question is, how long does the Senate want to take?”