Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has panned this approach, arguing the Senate should follow the same pattern of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. In 1999, during Clinton’s trial, the Senate first voted 100-0 to establish the trial’s basic parameters and later voted mostly along party lines to subpoena witness depositions.
McConnell and Schumer met privately off the Senate floor on Thursday and were unable to strike a deal on the trial. On Monday morning on Fox and Friends, McConnell reiterated they are at “an impasse” and said the Senate won’t do the House’s work for them on pursuit of documents and witnesses.
“The House went ahead without witnesses, and they didn’t pursue the witnesses in court,” McConnell said. “They just blew right through that and accused the president of doing something improper by simply invoking executive privilege which every president has done.”
Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the two scenarios are different, because of the documents and testimony received by the House in 1998 during Clinton’s impeachment. He’s argued the Senate should simultaneously establish rules for the trial along with agreeing to witnesses and documents, asking his Senate colleagues to take the holiday recess “to reflect on whether it is possible for the Senate to conduct a fair trial and reach a just outcome without reviewing all of the existing evidence and considering all of the available facts.”
Schumer has also argued new emails released to the Center for Public Integrity showing OMB communications bolsters his case for more information.
McConnell said on Monday that “all I’m asking of Schumer is that we treat Trump the same way we treated Clinton.”
The Senate can pass motions during the trial using a simple majority of 51 votes. Republicans control 53 seats and with party unity, can ignore Schumer’s requests. Many senators, however, want the two leaders to come to at least a basic understanding to start the trial.