(CNSNews.com) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had it right in the beginning when she initially decided against trying to impeach President Donald Trump, but she bowed to political pressure and ignored her initial political instincts last year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.
“I'm pretty sure she did not want to do this, but the fact that she was pulled into this direction against what appeared to be her political instincts a year ago underscores that this was a purely political exercise. Now having been dragged into something she instinctively felt was a mistake, then the second impulse was, let's get this over with as quickly as possible. Get it out of here, get it over to the other body, and let them deal with it,” McConnell said after Trump's acquittal on both articles of impeachment.
“That's why you had an abbreviated truncated rush job over in the House,” he said.
“So the speaker, I gather decided to sit on the impeachment papers after arguing that this is a matter of great urgency and the president needed to be removed from office as soon as possible, sit on them for a month, to laughably think that that somehow gave me leverage to concede their principal political argument, which was, this was all about witnesses over here on our side,” McConnell said.
“Well, that brought one of those rare smiles to my face, which you witnessed and which I was perplexed by the strategy that was being employed. Finally when it became obvious to everyone that it was an absurd position, the Democratic senators were saying why don't you send the papers over. Some of our members were saying it before they got slapped back into line,” he said.
“The papers came over, and we knew full well this would be about witnesses. I had said to my colleagues back in December in anticipation of the impeachment that their strategy would be to get it out of the House quickly and to leave it in the Senate endlessly so that we’d have that wrapped around our axle indefinitely,” McConnell said.
The majority leader suspected that “it wasn’t so much about President Trump, but rather about taking the Senate,” which was confirmed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“And my counterpart Senator Schumer finally in the last few weeks pretty much admitted it to all of you that that's what this was all about. It was about taking the Senate and about trying to bog us down in this, and to try to get my guys to have a lot of tough votes,” McConnell said.
“So I’m proud of my colleagues for seeing through that, for knowing that even though if you ask a typical voter, should there be witnesses in a trial, they’d say, sure. Of course, there ought to be witnesses,” he added.
McConnell said the Democrats’ strategy wasn’t really about removing the president from office, because they knew they wouldn’t have the votes to do so. It was really about trying to take control of the Senate.
“I think this was a thoroughly political exercise from the beginning to the end, and the final irony of it all is the speaker was right in the beginning, because here we are today in a position to judge the political impact of this,” the majority leader said.
“Since it all started about politics, how did it end about politics? The president has his highest approval rating since he’s been in office. I can tell you as a poll watcher who’s looking at polls in certain Senate races, every one of our people in tough races, every one of them is in better shape today than they were before the impeachment trial started,” McConnell said.
“I'm not sitting here predicting what will be the biggest issue in November, but I can tell you this, right now this is a political loser for them. They initiated it. They thought this was a great idea, and at least for the short term, it has been a colossal political mistake,” he said.