The U.S. Senate remained at a stalemate on Friday over how to proceed with the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, as the chamber’s leaders wrangled over whether White House aides will be called as witnesses and the top Democrat appealed to a handful of Republicans who could help break the impasse. After a two-week holiday recess, there was still no clarity about when Trump’s impeachment trial might begin.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said that in any case the trial could not start without the articles of impeachment, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet sent to the Senate.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted in December to impeach Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential election. A trial would be held in the Senate, and Trump is expected to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled chamber. But McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have been at loggerheads since late last year over how it should be conducted.
McConnell said on Friday that once the Senate receives the articles of impeachment from the House, it could start the trial and resolve the dispute over witnesses “mid-trial.” He said this would follow the precedent set in former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial two decades ago. Clinton, a Democrat, was acquitted by the Senate. “Just like 20 years ago,” McConnell said, “we should address mid-trial questions such as witnesses after briefs, opening arguments, senator questions and other relevant motions.”