Schiff: Withholding Impeachment Articles Proved McConnell Is "An Active Participant In The President's Cover-Up" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Schiff: Withholding Impeachment Articles Proved McConnell Is "An Active Participant In The President's Cover-Up"

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Rep. Adam Schiff discussed his hopes for the Senate impeachment trial and said he was happy that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far withheld the articles of impeachment from the Senate.

"I think withholding the articles has thus far flushed out where Mitch McConnell’s coming from," Schiff said. "It’s my hope that, that pressure will result in a real trial fair to the American people as well as fair to the President."

JAKE TAPPER: Let's turn to impeachment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still holding onto the articles of impeachment and preventing the Senate from beginning its trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear on Friday. He said he's in no rush to hold the trial. He's not going to meet her demands for a trial.

How long are Democrats, Democratic leaders prepared to hold onto the articles? Might this go until February? Could this be indefinite?

ADAM SCHIFF: I don't think it's going to be indefinite, no. I don't think that's at all the desire, motivation here.

The desire is to get a commitment from the Senate that they're going to have a fair trial, fair to the president, yes, but fair to the American people.

TAPPER: McConnell is not going to do what you guys want him to do.

SCHIFF: Well, McConnell, I think, is -- one success that this has already had is flushing out McConnell, showing that he is working in cahoots with the president, that he has made himself an active participant in the president's cover-up.

So the American people needed to see that. And now they do. We also...

TAPPER: So, you're never to get what you want, though. I mean, isn't that -- isn't that what you're saying?

SCHIFF: Well, that's not necessarily the case either, because you are also seeing the effect of this is flushing out senators.

Both Democrats and Republicans are now having to go on the record and say, do we want witnesses? Do we want to see the documents? Do we want the American people to hear the evidence? Do we want a real trial? Or do we want a cover-up?

It's clear, I think, from the president and Mitch McConnell they don't want a trial anymore. They don't want witnesses. They don't want documents. They don't even want -- Jake, they don't even want a verdict. They want a dismissal. They want to have the House managers come in and make a presentation, and then move to dismiss and make it go away, before the American people get to see the full extent of the president's misconduct.

But that's not what the American people want. It's not what the founders contemplated. And if you ask even a majority of Republicans around the country, they want the evidence to come out.

And so I think that withholding the articles has thus far flushed out where Mitch McConnell is coming from. It's required senators to go on record. And it's my hope that that pressure will result in a real trial, fair to the American people, as well as fair to the president.

TAPPER: So -- but, if you have succeeded in doing that, in flushing out where McConnell is, and flushing out where people like Murkowski and Collins are, does that mean it's now time to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate?

I mean, could that happen this week? Or do you think it's more likely in February?

SCHIFF: Well, that will be a decision the speaker has to make, and I don't know the answer to that.

But I can say that, at the end of the day, what we all should be pushing for. And I agree with Senator Durbin. I don't think any senators should be expressing opinions here.

What we should want is a fair trial. And what we should want of senators is that they take their oath seriously. And that oath requires them to be impartial.

I have heard some of the senators liken the Senate proceeding to an appeal. It's not an appeal. It's a trial, which means that it ought to involve witnesses. In fact, each of the trials that have gone forward with impeachment of a president in the past have involved witness testimony.

But we ought to also start out by having the documents come out. And the documents that have been coming out lately are increasingly incriminating of the president. You can see why they want to cover those up. Those documents ought to be provided as well.

TAPPER: The top House attorney for Democrats told a federal court on Friday that there might be a third article of impeachment for obstruction of justice during the Mueller investigation.

Are you considering impeaching President Trump again?

SCHIFF: Well, we're focused right now on the trial we have got coming up.

And that's our foremost priority. But what the House counsel is saying is, we have been trying to get testimony from people like Don McGahn. We have been trying to get the grand jury material as part of the impeachment inquiry.

And for those senators who say, well, why didn't the House wait on the Ukraine articles until you exhausted the court remedies, the reason is because, on those articles, the president was trying to seek foreign help in the election.

It's not sufficient to say, let's wait another year or two years to get these witnesses in, if the president is trying to cheat in the next election.

So, we moved forward with those articles that had the greatest sense of urgency. We continue to press the case with McGahn, with the grand jury material, with those that weren't as urgent. And I think that makes all the sense in the world.



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