Jan 7 2020

The Hill

“The timing is driven by the urgency.” That’s what House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) proclaimed on national television the morning that House Democrats voted to impeach President Trump on a partisan basis.

Since the moment Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the impeachment inquiry before even reading the transcript between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, House Democrats rushed through the process. They created their own rules to hold televised hearings and denied President Trump basic fairness in order to get their desired political outcome in time before their arbitrary and self-imposed deadline.

The rationale we heard from Democrats defending their rapid pace was the “urgency” of the situation, going so far as to claim President Trump was a threat to national security.

In the end, they produced an embarrassingly weak case that failed to convince a single Republican to vote to impeach President Trump. The entirely partisan vote was a major break from recent history in which the impeachment of both Presidents Clinton and Nixon had support of members of their own parties.

In fairness, the Constitution doesn’t mandate a bipartisan vote to impeach a president and initiate the trial in the Senate. However, after weeks of emphasizing the “urgency” of rushing through impeachment, Speaker Pelosi astonishingly announced that she would not be sending the articles to the Senate.

It’s easy to understand why Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats are suddenly afraid to move forward. They know their lack of evidence and the inherent weakness of the case they rushed to build will likely result in a bipartisan acquittal in the Senate. They are finding out that the American people have grown sick and tired of their partisan impeachment push at the expense of focusing on solutions that will actually benefit hardworking families.

Dealt a bad hand, the only play Speaker Pelosi has left is to try to save face. This is why she’s using a disingenuous process argument to explain away the Democrats’ buyer’s remorse. Pelosi is claiming that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won’t agree to a “fair trial” because he has rejected her ridiculous demand that the Senate do the House’s job for them. It was the responsibility of the House to interview witnesses and submit the evidence to the Senate for consideration, a responsibility they neglected.

Leader McConnell has made it clear that the Senate will operate under the same rules used by the Senate during the Clinton impeachment trial, rules that were unanimously passed 100-0. These rules laid out the conditions of the first phase of the trial and then left other questions, such as whether call on witnesses following the opening arguments, to a later vote in the Senate.

Speaker Pelosi has no constitutional authority over the rules and procedures of the Senate, including an impeachment trial. While she is breaking new partisan ground by holding the articles of impeachment hostage, the Senate will not be extorted by her demands.

In the meantime, the Senate will move on to conducting the business of the American people. The Senate will continue to confirm the President’s well-qualified judges, ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to boost our farmers and small businesses, push for more reforms to the VA, and support our servicemembers and military families.

If and when House Democrats stop wasting the nation’s time and forge the courage to send over the articles of impeachment, the Senate will fulfill its constitutional obligation by examining the evidence collected by the House, hearing from both sides, and then rendering a verdict.

Thom Tillis is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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