McConnell: Impeachment measure denies Trump 'basic rights'

WASHINGTON — The impeachment resolution pushed by House Democrats would deny President Donald Trump the "most basic rights of due process," the Senate's top Republican said Wednesday, sharply criticizing the leaders behind the measure.

The House was expected to vote Thursday as Democrats look to counter protests from Trump and his Republicans allies that the impeachment process is illegitimate and unfair. The resolution calls for open hearings and requires the House Intelligence Committee to submit a report outlining its findings and recommendations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used a floor speech to go after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., saying that "instead of setting a high bar, House Democrats seem determined to set a new low."

McConnell said the resolution would deny the "most basic rights of due process" to Trump such as having his lawyer participate in closed-door depositions by the committee.

Schiff has led interviews of key witnesses, seeking to establish that Trump abused his office by withholding crucial military aid to Ukraine in hopes of getting Ukraine's new government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Democrats compare the committee's role in the investigation to a fact-finding grand jury proceeding in which the accused does not have rights to counsel. They say the resolution establishes rights comparable to episodes such the 1998-1999 impeachment and trial of President Bill Clinton.

In Clinton's case, independent counsel Ken Starr conducted an extensive investigation and delivered boxes of sworn testimony that he said likely constituted grounds for impeachment.