McConnell calls Pelosi 'too afraid' to give impeachment articles to Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "may be too afraid" to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate after the speaker suggested she won't submit them until she believes a fair trial will take place.

McConnell lambasted the impeachment from the Senate floor as "the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair ... in modern history." He said Pelosi "gave in to a temptation" and that the House impeached Trump "simply because they disagree with a presidential act."

The two articles of impeachment approved by the House on Wednesday charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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Mitch McConnell through the years

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, talked with United States Enrichment Corp. General Manager Howard Pulley during a media tour of the uranium-enrichment Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in the plant's Central Control Facility (C-300) on Thursday, Aug. 12, 1999 near Paducah, Ky. A sealed federal lawsuit filed in June by the Natural Resources Defense Council and three plant employees alleges that thousands of unsuspecting workers were exposed to dust containing plutonium and other radioactive metals.

(Photo by Billy Suratt)

Senator Mitch McConnell (L) discusses Republican tax cuts as Sen. Patrick Moynihan looks on during NBC's ''Meet the Press'' August 1, 1999 in Washington, DC.

(photo by Richard Ellis)

Senator Christopher Dodd, left, and Senator Mitch McConnell punch the 'first nails' into a piece of wood during a nail-driving ceremony December 6, 2000 on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Both senators participated in the ceremony to signify the beginning of construction of the 2001 Inaugural platform on the West Front Terrace of the U.S. Capitol.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)

Mitch McConnell R-Ky. holds a press conference on campaign finance reform.

(Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

United States President George W. Bush signs nominations for 13 cabinet members in a ceremony in the President's Room in the Capitol Building, in Washington January 20, 2001. From left to right are Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, (R-Ms), Vice-President Richard Cheney, Senator Strom Thurmond, (R-SC) and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Il).

(STR New / Reuters)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to reporters after a news conference on his campaign finance bill.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduces his wife Labor Secretary Elaine Chao on the third day of the Republican National Convention in New York, September 1, 2004.

(Photo by Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, left, speaks with Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., after the Senate Luncheons.

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) (C) and Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) smile at a joint news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington July 28, 2005.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas YG/TZ)

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C), flanked by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) (L-R), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator John Thune (R-SD), talks to reporters about the senate's passage of debt ceiling legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, August 2, 2011. Congress buried the specter of a debt default by finally passing a deficit-cutting package on Tuesday, but the shadow lingered of a possible painful downgrade of the top-notch American credit rating.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to his office at the Capitol in Washington December 17, 2011. The U.S. Senate on Saturday passed a $915 billion bill to fund most federal agency activities through next September and avert a government shutdown.

(REUTERS/Benjamin Myers)

Incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (C) (R-TN) attends a meeting with Republican leadership, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (L) (R-KY) and GOP conference chairman, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) on Capitol Hill January 6, 2003 in Washington, DC. Frist was voted in as majority leader by his colleagues when former majority leader, Trent Lott, stepped down last month.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaking, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., during a news conference on Miguel A. Estrada's withdrawal of his nomination to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. From CQToday: In numerous news conferences and floor speeches throughout the day, Republicans castigated Democrats for 'obstructing' the nominations of Estrada and other judicial candidates; most Democrats said they were blocking an up-or-down vote on the nomination as part of their bid for memos and other work papers from Estrada's time in the Clinton administration's Office of the Solicitor General.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks about the stimulus package on February 2, 2009 in Washington, DC. Republicans are criticizing the Democrat's near trillion dollar stimulus package and are asking for revisions before the Senate votes later in the week.

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US Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, is sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney (R) as his wife Labor Secretary Elaine Chao holds the Bible during a swearing in reenactment ceremony at the US Capitol on January 6, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wave as they walk before their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2016.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

US House Minority Leader John Boehner (L)R-OH and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) make remarks to the press outside the West Wing after their meeting with President Barack Obama on January 23, 2009 at the White House in Washington, DC.

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) waves goodbye to reporters after a news conference with (L-R) Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. John Barrasso (R0WY) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) after the weekly Senate Republican Caucus policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. Despite the Senate voting against opening debate on a bill to keep interest rates on federal Stafford loans from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012, McConnell said that both the GOP and Democrats agree on keeping rates down but need to find a way to pay for it.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., makes his way to the senate luncheons in the Capitol.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

From left, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attend a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in the Capitol's rotunda, June 24, 2014.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell testifies along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (not pictured) during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Examining a Constitutional Amendment to Restore Democracy to the American People,' focusing on campaign finance on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks about the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

El líder de la mayoría del Senado, Mitch McConnell, habla con la prensa tras salir del Senado el jueves 19 de diciembre de 2019 en el Capitolio, Washington. (AP Foto/Patrick Semansky)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, walks through the US Capitol in Washington, DC, December 19, 2019. - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell strongly condemned the impeachment of President Donald Trump by House Democrats on Thursday and said it was now up to the Republican-led Senate to "put this right."McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor, said the House of Representatives had conducted the "most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history." (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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McConnell said those articles are "fundamentally unlike any articles that any prior House of Representatives has ever passed" and the idea Democrats will withhold the articles suggests "House Democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate."

"Looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second-guessing whether they even want to go to trial," McConnell said, trashing the "comical" idea that Democrats will now "sit on their hands."

Such actions "concede that their own allegations are unproven," McConnell said, suggesting that "every future president" could now face impeachment, "free to swamp the Senate with trial after trial, no matter how baseless."

"The framers built the Senate to provide stability," McConnell said, adding, "To keep partisan passions from boiling over. The Senate exists for moments like this."

The first article charges Trump for pushing Ukraine to announce probes into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats at the same time he was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid and an official White House visit for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The second article charges Trump with obstructing the House's investigation into that conduct.

"If the Senate blesses this slapdash impeachment, if we say from now on this is enough, then we invite an endless parade of impeachment trials," he said.

Trump also expressed disdain over the idea that Democrats may not immediately submit the articles, tweeting on Thursday: "Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it's Senate’s call!"

"The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial," he said. "If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!"

The articles must be transmitted to the Senate before such a trial could begin.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke on the Senate floor moments after McConnell, excoriating the top Republican for "proudly" saying he had "no intention to be impartial" in the trial. He said of his Senate counterpart's earlier evisceration of Democrats' impeachment push: "What hypocrisy."

"This from the man who proudly declared his number one goal was to make President Obama a one-term president," Schumer said, adding that McConnell proudly called himself the "grim-reaper" of legislation passed by the House.

Earlier this week, Schumer proposed calling four Trump administration witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney at the Senate trial. House Democrats previously subpoenaed all four officials, who did not testify.

Pointing to those witnesses, Schumer asked, "Is the president's case so weak that none of the president's men can defend him under oath?"

"If the House case is so weak, why is Leader McConnell so afraid of witnesses and documents?" he added.

Pelosi on Wednesday excoriated McConnell for pledging "total coordination" with the White House for the coming Senate trial, which she compared to the foreman of a jury being in "cahoots" with the defendant's attorney.

"We're not sending (the articles) tonight because it's difficult to determine who the managers would be until we see the arena in which we will be participating," Pelosi said, adding, "So far, we haven't seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully it will be fairer, and when we see what that is, we'll send our managers."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted that such withholding of the articles of impeachment "would be a breathtaking violation of the Constitution, an act of political cowardice, and fundamentally unfair to" Trump.

"Not allowing the Senate to act on approved Articles of Impeachment becomes Constitutional extortion and creates chaos for the presidency," he continued.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters Thursday that McConnell "has a problem" because he "said that he's going to work hand in glove with the White House."

Nadler added he believes McConnell "disqualified himself" as a result.

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