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 continued a dispute over whether top White House aides will be called as witnesses.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "...They've done enough damage, it’s Senate’s turn now." The U.S. Senate reconvened, Friday, as lawmakers remain at an impasse over President Donald Trump’s stalled impeachment trial.
At issue - whether top White House aides will be called as witnesses.
No date has been set for a trial, in which senators must consider whether Trump should be removed from office.
That's after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted in December to impeach Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday the Senate trial should begin promptly, with relevant witnesses and documents presented at a later time.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER, MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "We should address mid-trial questions such as witnesses after briefs, opening arguments, senator questions and other relevant motions.” But Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer insisted on Friday that McConnell commit to calling witnesses - like acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other White House aides - ahead of the trial.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) SENATE MINORITY LEADER, CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "There has never, never in the history of our country been an impeachment trial of the president in which the Senate was denied the ability to hear from witnesses.
Yet the Republican leader seems intent on violating that precedent..." McConnell has previously said there is no chance that Trump will be convicted by fellow Republicans.
In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has delayed sending over the articles of impeachment in a bid to pressure McConnell.
(SOUNDBITE)(English) HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: (DECEMBER 19, 2019) "We would hope there would be a fair process, just as we hoped they would honor the Constitution.” (SOUNDBITE)(English) SENATE MINORITY LEADER, CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: “Leader McConnell’s proposal to vote on witnesses and documents later, is nothing more than a poorly devised trap.” A trap, he claims, will acquit Trump without a fair trial.