It’s always fun to watch Democrats be told no. They don’t take it very well and that, my friends, is entertainment. Mitch McConnell released his rules for the Senate impeachment trial and they are short and sweet. Everything the Democrats want, like re-trying this whole sham with more witnesses they dug up from somewhere in Gloria Allred’s Rolodex, is unlikely to happen. (Or at least, it better not if Republicans want to stop this insanity.)
McConnell’s tight rules for the trial were released around midnight on Monday leading Twitter hysterics to start trending #MidnightMitch in conjunction with their outrage.
The President and the House of Representatives shall have until 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, to file any motions permitted under the rules of impeachment with the exception of motions to subpoena witnesses or documents or any other evidentiary motions,” McConnell’s resolution stated. “Responses to any such motions shall be filed no later than 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. All materials filed pursuant to this paragraph shall be filed with the Secretary and be printed and made available to all parties.
Arguments on such motions shall begin at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, and each side may determine the number of persons to make its presentation, following which the Senate shall deliberate, if so ordered under the impeachment rules, and vote on any such motions…
The rules go on to lay out that each side will have no more than two days to make their cases. This, of course, is sending Democrats, who want to turn this into a sideshow freak-a-thon that lasts through February, or possibly longer, into fits of rage. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted, “Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence.”
Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence.
A trial with no evidence—no existing record, no witnesses, no documents—isn’t a trial at all.
It’s a cover up. pic.twitter.com/NTvChfcnrJ
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 21, 2020
This is absurdly false. What Schumer objects to is that McConnell is insisting the Senate vote on whether to allow witnesses for both sides. The Senate is going to debate the merits of calling witnesses. If they decide to allow it then both sides will be allowed to call witnesses. If they vote no, then neither side will be allowed any witnesses. Schumer is just angry that Democrats are being hamstrung by rules they don’t want to follow. Should the Republicans not have any rules about witnesses, we would all be subjected to characters from the Star Wars bar scene on endless parade so Democrats can get new damning headlines without any substance to further smear the president. They had their chance in the House to bring any witnesses they wanted for as long as they wanted and they chose the ones they thought were most convincing. Now that the House has closed their investigation, they can’t demand the Senate do another one. The Senate’s job is to try the evidence presented by the House. Or is Schumer admitting that the House Democrats didn’t present this case well enough and they need a do-over?
Schumer is not being honest about the Senate rules. The resolution states, “If the Senate agrees to allow either the House of Representatives or the President to subpoena witnesses, the witnesses shall first be deposed and the Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify, pursuant to the impeachment rules. No testimony shall be admissible in the Senate unless the parties have had an opportunity to depose such witnesses.” Schumer claiming that there will be no witnesses is clearly pants-on-fire false. There is a possibility that witnesses won’t be called if the Senate votes no, but it doesn’t seem very likely. But if they vote yes, each side will have the chance to call witnesses. Which, by the way, is far more equitable than the way the House did it.
Schumer is complaining about the very same thing that the House did to the Republicans during the impeachment hearing, where Democrats blocked almost all of the witnesses for the president. We still remember that out of the four constitutional scholars called to testify, only one of them was in support of the president.
One thing is certain; the senate impeachment trial is going to be full of drama and betrayal and nastiness. Are you ready for it?
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter