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Senate has enough votes for Trump impeachment trial: Mitch McConnelle

McConnell has said that the Senate should model Trump’s impeachment trial after that of former President Bill Clinton, by dealing with potential witnesses once it begins.

SNS | New Delhi |

The US Majority leader Mitch McConnelle on Tuesday said that the Senate has enough votes to set the rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled Upper Chamber.

“We have the votes,” McConnell said while speaking to media after a lunch meeting with colleagues in a show of Republican unity.

The impeachment trial is still in limbo as Republicans and Democrats remain locked in an impasse over its rules.

In December, President Trump was impeached by the Democrat-led House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has proposed calling on several witnesses during the Senate trial, while McConnell has so far rejected the demand, reiterating his stance on Tuesday.

“Fifty-one senators determine what we do and there will be, I’m sure, intense discussion, once we get past phase one, about the whole witness issue,” McConnell added.

Schumer also said on Tuesday that Democrats would “force votes to put Republicans on the record”.

McConnell has said that the Senate should model Trump’s impeachment trial after that of former President Bill Clinton, by dealing with potential witnesses once it begins.

The impeachment against Donald Trump now moves to the House of Representatives, where the opposition Democratic Party enjoys a majority. Once passed by the House, the trial for impeachment would be carried out in the 100-member US Senate, where President Trump’s Republican party has a majority.

Earlier, Trump described his impeachment probe as a hoax and politically motivated.

“It is a witch hunt. It is a sham. It is a hoax. Nothing was done wrong. Zero was done wrong. I think it is a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment, which is supposed to be used in an emergency. And it would seem many, many, many years apart,” he asserted.

“To be using this for a perfect phone call, where the president of that country said there was no pressure whatsoever — did not even know what we were talking about. It was perfect; the relationship is perfect. I have done much more for them than Obama did for them. It is a scam. It is something that should not be allowed. And it is a very bad thing for our country,” President Trump said.

While impeachment is expected to pass in the Democratic-led House, the Senate is held by a Republican majority and would likely acquit the US president as his 2020 reelection campaign gathers pace.

Nancy Pelosi has argued that the president’s conduct when it came to Ukraine left Democrats with “no choice but to act,” charging that Trump abused the powers of the presidency and leaving little doubt that the House will hold a vote to impeach him as early as before Christmas.

In September, the impeachment inquiry, which Nancy Pelosi initiated over a complaint by an anonymous whistleblower, is looking into White House’s alleged efforts to withhold military aid to have Ukraine investigate a Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.

(With inputs from agency)