If the Democrat majority in the House impeaches President Donald Trump, the Senate should employ “the unanimous template from 1999,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday prior to the House vote.
In a Senate floor speech, McConnell said that, since all 100 Senators in 1999 approved the impeachment process used in the trial of President Bill Clinton, then the Senate should apply that same process when it comes to President Donald Trump:
1. A Briefing,
2. Opening Arguments,
3. Senators’ Questions (No Witnesses),
4. Vote on Motion to Dismiss Charges,
5. Trial, with Questioning of Witnesses – if the motion to dismiss fails.
McConnell said that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to break from the precedent that was unanimously set in 1999:
“Over the weekend, my colleague, the Democratic Leader began asking the Senate to break from precedent, break with the unanimous template from 1999, and begin choreographing the middle of a potential trial before we’ve even heard opening arguments.
“In 1999, all 100 senators agreed on a simple pre-trial resolution that set up a briefing, opening arguments, senators’ questions, and a vote on a motion to dismiss. Senators reserved all other questions, such as witnesses, until the trial was underway.
“That was the unanimous bipartisan precedent from 1999. Put first things first, lay the bipartisan groundwork, and leave mid-trial questions to the middle of the trial.”
But, “No amount of bluster” by Schumer can change the fact that the 1999 process was unanimously approved by both Democrats and Republicans, McConnell said, adding that the process that was good enough for Clinton should, likewise, be good enough for Trump:
“I have hoped, and still hope, that the Democratic Leader and I can sit down and reproduce that unanimous bipartisan agreement this time. His decision to try to angrily negotiate through the press is unfortunate.
“But no amount of bluster will change the simple fact that we already have a unanimous… bipartisan… precedent.
“If 100 senators thought this approach was good enough for President Clinton, it ought to be good enough for President Trump.”