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Politics A pact with Trump on impeachment? McConnell’s Kentucky backers demand it.

04:50  13 january  2020
04:50  13 january  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Pelosi accuses McConnell of 'doubling down on his violation of his oath' on Trump trial

  Pelosi accuses McConnell of 'doubling down on his violation of his oath' on Trump trial Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday fired back at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after he said it was a "non-starter" for House Democrats to try to make demands for the Senate's impeachment trial of President Trump.Earlier Friday, McConnell dug in over the ongoing stalemate and accused House Democrats of having "cold feet" after Pelosi declined to send the articles of impeachment passed by the House two weeks ago over to the Senate. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

McConnell ’ s Kentucky backers demand it . Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leaves a GOP luncheon on Capitol Hill. The Senate majority leader’s insistence that he will coordinate Trump ’s impeachment trial with the White House — and that he has no intention of being impartial

Sure, it would be an unprecedented move in U. S . history for Republican leader Mitch McConnell to table Trump impeachment proceedings without allowing any significant debate or a vote to convict a president from his own party, thereby removing him from office. But it ’d be well within his power.

FLORENCE, Ky. —It is not easy these days to lose as a Republican running in ruby-red Kentucky. But that is what happened here in November in the governor's race, when the caustic incumbent managed to alienate enough of his base to fall just short.

Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a door: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leaves a GOP luncheon on Capitol Hill.© Astrid Riecken/for The Washington Post Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leaves a GOP luncheon on Capitol Hill.

This year, another polarizing and unpopular Republican will be up for reelection in the Bluegrass State. But Mitch McConnell has at least one key advantage that former governor Matt Bevin did not: As perhaps the most powerful man on Capitol Hill, he is positioned to drive a stake through efforts to oust a Republican who remains indisputably admired among Kentucky voters: President Trump.

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  Pelosi: Republicans 'have run out of excuses' to block impeachment trial witnesses after Bolton offer to testify Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hailed news that former national security adviser John Bolton said he would testify during President Trump's impeachment trial by urging Republicans to allow witnesses at the Senate-run event. © Provided by Washington Examiner"The President & Sen. McConnell have run out of excuses," the California Democrat tweeted Monday. "They must allow key witnesses to testify, and produce the documents Trump has blocked, so Americans can see the facts for themselves." She added, "The Senate cannot be complicit in the President's cover-up." The President & Sen. McConnell have run out of excuses.

US President Donald Trump has demanded an immediate impeachment trial in the Senate, amid an impasse among Democrats and Republicans over when it may start. The impeachment process - only the fourth time it has happened in US history - has been a bitter partisan fight dividing Washington.

McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to begin the trial with arguments from Trump ’ s counsel and the House impeachment managers, and make decisions on witnesses later. Democrats have sought to get an agreement on new evidence before the trial begins, but McConnell spurned them and locked up the

The Senate majority leader’s insistence that he will coordinate Trump’s impeachment trial with the White House — and that he has no intention of being impartial — has provoked howls of protest from Democrats. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused McConnell of orchestrating a “coverup” of Trump’s actions.

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It has also prompted speculation that he could jeopardize his slender majority by exposing Republicans in swing or Democratic-leaning states to accusations that they went along with a rigged process running counter to the Constitution.

McConnell says he has enough Republican votes to begin Trump's trial without witnesses

  McConnell says he has enough Republican votes to begin Trump's trial without witnesses The process cannot get started until Nancy Pelosi sends the House-passed articles to the Senate."We have the votes once the impeachment trial has begun to pass a resolution — essentially the same as, very similar to, the 100-to-nothing vote in the Clinton trial," McConnell told reporters.

For his part, Mr. McConnell has repeatedly condemned the House’ s case as rushed and woefully inadequate, without addressing the behavior of which Mr. Trump is accused. Nor does it guarantee that new evidence will be included. The minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, said

Mr Trump became only the third president in US history to be impeached after two votes in the Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives - but more on what that means below. President Trump , who is a Republican, strongly denies any wrongdoing. What is he accused of doing wrong?

But here in Kentucky, it just looks like savvy politics.

The 77-year-old is expected to face a vigorous challenge in November from a decorated Marine fighter pilot with a record of big-dollar fundraising. Yet McConnell has shown an unerring instinct for self-preservation across six Senate terms and a record stint as Republican leader.

a man wearing a suit and tie: McConnell, then Jefferson County judge, declares his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Covington, Ky., on Jan. 17, 1984.© Al Behrman/AP McConnell, then Jefferson County judge, declares his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Covington, Ky., on Jan. 17, 1984.

Analysts say his impeachment strategy is just more evidence that he is playing to win.

“It’s the safest move he could make,” said Ryan Salzman, a politics professor at Northern Kentucky University. “Anything that even appears he’s going against President Trump on impeachment, in any way, would be the worst thing he could do for his reelection.”

So far, there is no suggestion that he will. Over weeks of negotiation, McConnell has refused to bow to pressure from Senate and House Democrats — or even from more moderate members of his own caucus — over how he will manage the process. The majority leader has instead vowed “total coordination” with the White House.

McConnell tells Republicans he expects impeachment trial next week

  McConnell tells Republicans he expects impeachment trial next week He said he expects impeachment articles delivered as early as Friday.While senators and aides cautioned that McConnell does not have inside intelligence, the remarks serve as key scheduling advice for senators. Most Republicans are now gearing up for the relentless pace of the impeachment trial to start on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr. McConnell has said he intends to run a trial similar to the 1999 impeachment proceeding against President Bill Clinton Congressional Republicans close to Mr. Trump also pounced on the speaker’ s prediction, arguing that it betrayed the Democrats’ true motivation throughout the impeachment

Even if they don't impeach Trump , McConnell ' s still making the spectacle the centerpiece of his For now, McConnell ' s campaign seems to be betting on impeachment being a very bankable issue for them. What the impeachment process turns up remains to be seen, but if it 's what we have now

With the trial expected to begin as soon as this week, there is no assurance that the Senate will subpoena witnesses or documents related to the Trump administration’s campaign to force Ukraine to open an inquiry into presidential rival Joe Biden.

As the process unfolds, the pressure on McConnell is expected to intensify. Several Republican senators — including Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), the latter of whom is expected to face a tough reelection fight — have either expressed misgivings about their leader’s intentions or said directly that they want key witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, to testify.

“We have to take that step back from being hand-in-glove with the defense,” Murkowski told an Alaska radio station late last month, adding that she was “disturbed” by McConnell’s coziness with the administration on impeachment.

But for now, McConnell — who can afford to lose up to three votes while retaining a working majority — has the support he needs to call the shots. The political calculus on McConnell’s home front offers him little room to compromise, even if he wanted to.

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  McConnell signs on to bill to start Trump trial over Pelosi's objections Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signed onto a measure that would allow lawmakers to begin President Trump’s impeachment trial without receiving the articles House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is withholding. © Provided by Washington ExaminerMcConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is among more than one dozen Republicans who are co-sponsors of a measure authored by Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, authorizing the Senate to begin the trial as early as Monday, or 25 days after the House passed the impeachment articles on Dec. 19.

McConnell on Friday was the 13th co-sponsor of a resolution by Republican Senator Josh Hawley of That would defer a vote on calling witnesses -- one of the main demands of Senate Democratic Pelosi said Trump continues to violate the Constitution. Asked if it was possible the House might file

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Kentucky ) rebuffed all of their requests and eventually signed McConnell countered that the rules for the impeachment trial were set in 1999 for President Bill Pelosi did not get “a single one of her absurd demands because her own party got fed up with her

To Trump’s backers here in northern Kentucky — the small cities, affluent suburbs and rolling hill country that fans out just across the muddy Ohio River from Cincinnati — that is just how they like it. Many have long been wary of McConnell, deeming him overly willing to cut a deal and insufficiently committed to the president’s agenda. His management of the president’s trial, they say, will be a test.

“How he handles this impeachment is going to be the big determinant of whether people get behind him,” said Kevin Gordon, a talk radio host and activist.

Impeachment, Gordon said, was tantamount to “an active coup” and should be given as little credence as possible.

“They should dismiss the charges outright. It’s a sham,” Gordon said. “If McConnell runs the trial the way the Democrats want, people here are not going to be happy.”

Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump are posing for a picture: McConnell accompanies President Trump during a Capitol Hill visit in March.© Brendan McDermid/Reuters McConnell accompanies President Trump during a Capitol Hill visit in March.

So far, conservatives said they like what they have seen.

State Sen. John Schickel credited McConnell for his “steady hand” and for staying, by and large, in the good graces of Trump voters who are “very, very, very passionate” in their defense of the president. But he also said McConnell is “walking a tightrope.”

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Trump is alleged to have demanded investigations into a conspiracy theory about election interference and unsubstantiated allegations of corruption involving Trump also had scathing words for Pelosi in the Fox News interview, saying it was “ridiculous” she had held on to the articles of impeachment for

McConnell told colleagues on Tuesday that he had the votes to set the rules unilaterally. Or is she making a background bet about how bad it might look for Republicans to refuse to negotiate on trial rules? “Absent some radical change either within the impeachment universe or outside of it , I

“He definitely has to watch his right flank. He’s always had to,” said Schickel, who recently penned an opinion piece describing 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers, which was agreed to by McConnell’s Senate, as “another step toward socialism.”

“The party leadership in northern Kentucky is very conservative and doesn’t always like what he does,” Schickel said.

Last year’s gubernatorial race offers a cautionary tale of what happens when a Kentucky politician, even a Republican one, takes the state’s conservative voters for granted.

Bevin was infamous for his insults and bullying — especially of opponents, but even of Republican allies. That caught up to him as the governor sought a second term. Bevin won the primary, but in the general election, matched against a relatively moderate Democrat with a deep pedigree in Kentucky politics, many steadfast Republicans sat the contest out.

“Bevin treated his conservative supporters terribly,” said Phyllis Sparks, a 58-year-old Republican activist who declined to vote for either of the top contenders in the governor’s race. “He didn’t represent me or my values.”

Because of voters like Sparks, Bevin’s support collapsed statewide, but most notably in northern Kentucky.

In Boone County, the suburban area outside Cincinnati where Sparks lives, Bevin’s margin was cut by 20 percentage points compared with his first run. In the adjacent counties of Kenton and Campbell — places Bevin had won handily in 2015 and Trump had carried by 25 points a year later — the Democrat, Andy Beshear, flipped them en route to a 5,000-vote squeaker of a statewide victory.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell (R- Kentucky ): Mr. Chief Justice, as the senior Senator from Kentucky , it is my distinct privilege today to rise and speak at the desk formerly occupied by one of the greatest Senators in the history of our country and the greatest Senator from the commonwealth of Kentucky : Henry Clay.

It is unlikely to be his last, as many of the Democrats who voted to table this measure said they did so because they were waiting to hear testimony from former "I think there are legitimate reasons to favor impeachment , but I think we need to hear from the man that wrote the report," Gerry Connolly

The result galvanized Democrats, especially the campaign of Amy McGrath, the Marine veteran who is the favorite to win the party’s primary and to challenge McConnell in the fall.

“It gave us momentum,” McGrath said in an interview. “Matt Bevin was incredibly unpopular, and Kentuckians got rid of him. Mitch McConnell is also very unpopular.”

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Amy McGrath supporters wait for results in a 2018 congressional race.© Philip Scott Andrews/for The Washington Post Amy McGrath supporters wait for results in a 2018 congressional race.

According to one poll last year, the majority leader has less support in his home state than any other senator, with just 37 percent of Kentuckians backing him.

Yet most prognosticators say McConnell’s chances of winning reelection are strong, and even Democrats acknowledge that the comparison to Bevin has serious limitations.

For one thing, “McConnell doesn’t insult everyone on a daily basis, which Bevin did,” said Linda Nesbitt, chair of the Campbell County Democrats.

For another, McConnell will be running on a ticket with Trump, a president who enjoys a plus-14 net favorability in Kentucky, at the top. Though the two got off to a rocky start — Trump’s early months in office featured a presidential tweetstorm against the senator for his failure to repeal and replace Obamacare — they have since found an accommodation.

“They’re a team,” said Josh Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff whose political consulting firm handles the senator’s digital advertising. “The president’s agenda requires somebody like Mitch McConnell to get it done.”

Tax reform and judicial appointments are central pillars of Trump’s record that were enabled by McConnell. Now impeachment will offer the senator a fresh, high-profile chance to showcase his value to the president — and to Trump’s supporters.

“He’s handling impeachment like a surgeon would — with precision,” said Sparks, who said she will eagerly volunteer for both Trump’s and McConnell’s campaigns this fall. “McConnell’s been a good ally of the president, and Trump’s coattails are very long.”

Poll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator

  Poll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has come under mounting pressure as President Trump's impeachment trial starts, is now the Senate's most unpopular member, displacing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the rankings, according to a new tracking poll. © Greg Nash Poll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator A quarterly Morning Consult tracking poll finds that Collins's net approval rating has dropped 10 points in her state since the end of September, a sign of the intense fire she has taken from critics since the House launched its impeachment inquiry.

Now it appears very, very clear that Mitch McConnell is going to go against the will of the American people by having a trial that is a sham trial. We’ll name our impeachment managers. The American people have to ask Mitch McConnell if he’ s not going to respect the Constitution in this manner and

An October poll found that just 29 percent of Kentuckians favor impeaching and removing Trump. That has made the issue a tricky one for McGrath, who came up short in a 2018 House election.

After the House voted to impeach the president in December, McConnell’s campaign knocked the Democrat for releasing a lengthy statement that did not say specifically whether she supported the House’s move. (She later clarified that she did.)

McGrath said in the interview that impeachment is rarely what voters most want to discuss with her, and that her message to them is focused far more on “kitchen table” issues such as health care and education. To the extent that voters do bring up impeachment, she said, “you get this feeling of, ‘Let’s move on.’ ”

Still, she said she would continue speaking out against McConnell’s handling of the trial, which she described as “going against your oath under the Constitution.”

“Most Kentuckians want a fair trial,” she said.

Many Kentuckians, of course, do not even think it is worthy of a trial. Around the bar at PeeWee’s — a dimly lit but highly spirited watering hole popular among local Republicans — even mention of the “i-word” elicits sputtering condemnations of Democrats for daring to try to take down “the best president we’ve ever had.”

In quieter corners, some offer more nuanced views. Paul Fiser, a 60-year-old lawyer, faulted Pelosi for going ahead with impeachment despite saying she would not proceed without bipartisan support. But he also criticized McConnell for saying he could not be an impartial juror.

Fiser said he had backed Trump “reluctantly” in 2016 and would probably do so again in 2020. But he drew a distinction between the president — still an outsider, even after three years in Washington — and the Kentuckian who has walked the halls of Congress for more than three decades.

“McConnell has become the ultimate insider. But people are tired of business as usual. They’re looking for unconventional candidates,” said Fiser, who described himself as undecided in the Senate race. “He’s not a lock like he’s been in the past.”

griff.witte@washpost.com

Poll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator .
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has come under mounting pressure as President Trump's impeachment trial starts, is now the Senate's most unpopular member, displacing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the rankings, according to a new tracking poll. © Greg Nash Poll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator A quarterly Morning Consult tracking poll finds that Collins's net approval rating has dropped 10 points in her state since the end of September, a sign of the intense fire she has taken from critics since the House launched its impeachment inquiry.

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