Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday blasted the speedy impeachment trial timeline laid out by his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell, calling it an “Alice in Wonderland-type proceeding.”
“(Democrats) will require every senator to vote on whether there should be certain witnesses, whether there should be certain documents and whether we should have the kind of unfair, stacked deck, Alice in Wonderland-type proceeding that McConnell has proposed,” Schumer told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
The comments from the New York Democrat come hours before President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is set to begin in earnest when the chamber debates the timeline laid out a day earlier by McConnell. The Kentucky Republican’s schedule sets up a speedy trial that indicates Senate Republicans are pushing to finish the process as quickly as possible. Schumer has said he would offer amendments on Tuesday “to address the many flaws in this deeply unfair proposal and to subpoena the witnesses and documents we have requested.”
Schumer and Senate Democrats have pushed for the Senate to hear from four witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and to subpoena documents that the White House blocked from the House’s impeachment inquiry.
After McConnell released his proposal on Monday, which gives House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team each 24 hours divided over two days for their opening arguments in the trial, Schumer ripped into it later that day, saying it’s “nothing short of a national disgrace.”
In his CNN interview, the minority leader criticized the fact that the opening arguments will likely go late into the night, as the trial begins at 1 p.m. ET each day.
“If President Trump were so confident and McConnell were so confidence of his arguments, why do they have to do them at 2:00 in the morning?” he said. “Why can’t they do them in the light of day? The rules he proposed really are a national disgrace for this reason.”
McConnell says he has enough Republican votes to back the rules resolution without Democratic support.
The organizing resolution presented by McConnell is the opening salvo in what’s shaping up to be a bitterly contested impeachment trial, after the House passed two articles of impeachment last month charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House Democratic managers and the President’s legal team will be doing the arguing in public — senators can only debate in closed session during the trial — but an intense debate over the direction of the trial nevertheless is likely to play out between Republican and Democratic senators while Schumer looks to peel off four GOP senators to support subpoenaing witnesses and documents.
“If you don’t have a real trial (where) you can judge impeachment on the merits, then this democracy is eroded,” Schumer told Berman. “And Mitch McConnell will go down in history as one of the people eroding democracy because he has gone along with President Trump’s cover up — hook, line and sinker.”