Posts tagged with "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell"

Carl Bernstein calls out Mitch McConnell with scathing new nickname—now trending on Twitter

January 22, 2020

Move over “Moscow Mitch” and “Grim Reaper.” There’s a new nickname inside the Beltway for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–conferred by none other than Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein—and it has sent social media users into overdrive, according to The Huffington Post.

The famed reporter called McConnell “Midnight Mitch” during a panel discussion on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° on Monday, January 20, based on the tightly compressed schedule that the Majority Leader had set for the imminent Senate impeachment trial over the Ukraine scandal.

Indeed, the HuffPost reports, McConnell has been so obsessed with keeping the facts of the scandal under wraps that he has insisted on just two days of 12-hour testimony on both sides—starting at 1 p.m. each afternoon, when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is available to preside.

That would run the trial into the early hours of the morning on four consecutive days. Hence, the moniker, “Midnight Mitch.”

Said Bernstein “[This is],,,the most important moment for the Republican Party since the censure of Joe McCarthy and the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, in which Republicans became great heroes and patriots. Now, we’re looking at ‘Midnight Mitch’ and the so-called world’s greatest deliberative body really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see. That’s what this is about. It’s about preventing information from becoming known and seen by the American public.

Bernstein noted how in the impeachments of former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton there had been “no problem about knowing the truth of the facts.”

But in the impeachment trial of Trump, he said, “we still have a factual problem here because the president and those who work for him and Mitch McConnell have impeded the facts from the beginning.”

Harvard Law School professor and legal scholar Laurence Tribe agreed with Bernstein, chiming in on Twitter, “These aren’t rules for a real trial at all, much less a fair one. They’re rules for a rigged outcome, with #MidnightMitch making sure that as much of the so-called trial as possible takes place in the dark of night.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Republicans abandon outright dismissal of impeachment charges

January 15, 2020

Despite President Donald Trump’s best efforts to attain an immediate dismissal of both articles of impeachment, the stage has been set in the U.S. Capitol for a tribunal—and the leading players for the House and the Senate will be chosen this week.

Indeed, according to a report by The New York Times , rank-and-file senators and party leaders made clear on Monday, January 13, that even if they wanted to pursue dismissal of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the votes simply were not there to succeed—at least not at the outset of the trial.

Senate Republicans indicated that they would not seek to summarily dismiss the impeachment charges against President Trump, proceeding instead to a trial with arguments and the possibility of calling witnesses that could begin as soon as Wednesday, the Times said.

Dismissal was always a long shot given Republicans’ narrow control of the Senate, but it was the subject of renewed discussion after Trump said on Sunday that he liked the idea put forward by some conservatives as a way to deny the House’s case the legitimacy of a trial.

 “Our members generally are not interested in a motion to dismiss,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a top Republican leader, told the Times. “They think both sides need to be heard. They believe the president needs to be heard for the first time in a fair setting.”

In the House on Monday, Democrats leaving meetings with Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the chamber was most likely to vote on Wednesday to name lawmakers to prosecute the case and to send its two impeachment charges to the Senate.

Behind the scenes, aides in the House and Senate were carefully choreographing the next steps, and some Democrats in the House cautioned that a vote could still slip to Thursday, as the Senate seeks to deal with a pending War Powers Resolution and President Trump’s new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

In any case, a trial would not be expected to start in earnest, with opening oral arguments, until next week.

As the trial has approached, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has seemed increasingly keen to keep it as tightly controlled and speedy as possible. According to the Times, “He is wary of what could happen if Democrats succeed in picking off moderate Republican senators to form a majority able to call witnesses and prolong the proceeding.”

But he also wants to ensure that those same moderate senators—several of whom are up this fall for re-election in swing states—can credibly claim to voters that they took their constitutional duties seriously.

However, on Twitter, the president warned that holding a full trial “gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Pelosi puts impeachment trial on hold until McConnell reveals his plans

December 23, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken steps to prevent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from riding roughshod over the Democrats’ requests for a fair impeachment trial—complete with witnesses close to the president, Politico reports.

She refused to commit last Wednesday—the day on which impeachment passed the House—to deliver the two articles of impeachment to the Senate, citing concerns about an rigged, partisan process that would protect President Donald Trump from being embarrassed; let alone, ousted from office.

Indeed, according to Politico, senior Democratic aides said the House was “very unlikely” to take the steps necessary to send the articles to the Senate until at least early January, a delay of at least two weeks and perhaps longer.

Pelosi told reporters at a news conference that, until she was informed by McConnell of the plans for the trial, the House would not name impeachment managers and the articles would not be handed over.  “That would’ve been our intention, but we’ll see what happens over there.”

Although the House adopted two articles of impeachment– charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of congressional investigations— it must pass a second resolution formally naming impeachment managers to present the case in the Senate. That second vehicle triggers the official transmission of articles to the Senate.

By delaying passage of that resolution, Pelosi and top Democrats retain control of the articles and hope to put pressure on McConnell to adopt trial procedures they consider to be bipartisan, Politico said.

McConnell has boasted that he has closely coordinated the planning of the trial with the White House and has repeatedly predicted Trump would be acquitted. He’s also suggested Democrats shouldn’t be allowed to call new witnesses as they attempt to present their case.

“I’m not an impartial juror,” he said flatly. “This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision.”

In response to those words, several members of Congress have said that McConnell should recuse himself from the impeachment process–advice he is unlikely to follow.

The White House lashed out at the move. “House Democrats have run a fatally flawed process with fake facts, and now they want to deny the President his day in court with another procedural maneuver that proves anew they have no case,” said Eric Ueland, Trump’s top congressional liaison to Congress.

Research contact: @politico

McConnell tells Hannity he’ll let Trump’s lawyers call the shots in impeachment trial

December 16, 2019

President Donald Trump won’t get a “fair or “impartial” trial in the Senate, after impeachment passes the House this coming week. He’ll get the trial that his lawyers and White House advisers tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) say he wants and needs–unburdening him of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice before the 2020 campaign gains steam.

When the trial commences in the Republican-controlled Senate, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will presidebut the GOP will be able to control much of the length and substance of the process, The Washington Post has reported.

And appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on December 12, McConnell made no bones about saying he’ll endeavor to give the White House whatever kind of trial it wants.

Indeed, according to a report by the Post, McConnell made a point of saying that he would be coordinating with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone every step of the way.

“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel,” McConnell said. “There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.”

He added later that “exactly how we go forward I’m going to coordinate with the president’s lawyers, so there won’t be any difference between us on how to do this.”

And then he said that “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”

McConnell also, notably, said there is “no chance” Trump will be removed from office. This, he indicated, is why he’s not treating the trial with much regard.

The repetition of the first talking point made pretty clear that McConnell very much intended to say all of this. But it’s worth taking stock of how remarkable a statement it is, The Washington Post opined —noting that “giving the White House any say over how the trial would be handled would be something, but McConnell says he’ll coordinate everything ( and how discordant it is relative to many of his fellow GOP senators).”

The newspaper went on to point out, “Those senators have, in many cases, declined to comment on impeachment and the Ukraine scandal because they will serve as jurors in the Senate trial. For some, it was certainly a cop-out to avoid having to comment on the substance of the Ukraine scandal, which, however you slice it, doesn’t look good for Trump. But now that McConnell is effectively saying he’ll let the defendant’s lawyers dictate how the trial will be handled, those professions of respect for the process ring pretty hollow.”

“I’m a juror, and I’m comfortable not speaking,” Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) told The Washington Post in late October. Pressed again, he said, “I said I’m comfortable not speaking.”

“I don’t need a strategy for impeachment, because I may be a juror someday,” Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) commented to the news outlet

“I’d be a juror, so I have no comment,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) added.

Earlier on Thursday, McConnell met with Cipollone and the administration’s Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. And McConnell said in his Thursday news conference he had not yet sat down with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) to negotiate on the process.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

‘Let’s just get the goods’: Pelosi rallies dispirited Democrats

March 27, 2019

As spirits flagged following the completion of the Mueller report—and the announcement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would block a resolution to release the full document to Congress—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) sought to rally her caucus behind closed doors Tuesday morning.

Be calm. Take a deep breath. Don’t become like them. We have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically, strategically,” Pelosi said during a closed-door meeting with House Democrats, referring to Republicans.

“Let’s just get the goods,” she said of Mueller’s report, according to an account released by Politico.

Pelosi’s comments came after the chairs of six key House committees  sent a letter on March 25 to Attorney General William Barr—who had provided them only with a four-page letter that outlined the “highlights” of the report and ruled out any consideration of charges of obstruction of justice.

It is vital for national security purposes that Congress be able to evaluate the full body of facts and evidence collected and evaluated by the Special Counsel,” the chairs said in the letter, advising Barr that, “We look forward to receiving the report in full no later than April 2, and to begin receiving the underlying evidence and documents the same day.”

The signatories of the letter included Representatives Jerrold Nadler (Judiciary Committee), Adam Schiff (Intelligence), Richard Neal (Ways and Means), Elijah Cumming (Oversight), Maxine Waters (Financial Services) and Eliot Engel (Foreign Affairs).

According to Barr, Mueller was unable to establish that Trump associates conspired with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, and he left unresolved the key issue of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.

“The president was not exonerated,” Pelosi told Democrats, according to Politico, referring to Trump’s claim on Sunday, March 24, that Mueller’s report amounted to a “total exoneration.”

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have suggested that the panel would move to issue a subpoena for the Mueller report if Barr refuses to turn it over by next Tuesday. Lawmakers said that they expect Barr to send Congress a heavily redacted version of the highly anticipated report.

They also highlighted the fact that Barr declined to recommend a criminal prosecution against Trump for obstruction of justice, noting his previously held view that a president could not obstruct justice.

“We have not seen the report. We’ve only gotten a summary that was created by a man who was appointed by the president, who clearly said before his appointment that he didn’t believe a sitting president could be charged, if you will, with obstruction of justice,” said Representative Val Demings (D-Florida), a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Research contact: @heathscope

Trump must “VETO!” as Congress votes against him

March 18, 2019

Just say no.” While that slogan is most-often associated with former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign, it also represents what Congressional Democrats have been articulating for the past two years to the G.O.P.

And indeed, the Republicans long have warned the president—when he stood by Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi; when he separated migrant children from their parents at the border; when he supported Putin in Helsinki; and when he declared a national emergency to pay for his border wall—that he should not push them too far.

And it finally has come to pass: This week, despite the best efforts of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to keep them in line, Republicans broke ranks—delivering a series of “remarkable … bipartisan rebukes to the president,” The New York Times reported.

On March 13, with seven Republicans crossing the aisle, the Senate joined the Democrat-led House in voting to end American military aid to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen in protest over the killing of Khashoggi.

On March 14, the Times reported, the House voted unanimously on a nonbinding resolution to make public the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.

And hours later on that same day, 12 Republican senators abandoned the president to pass legislation, already adopted by the House, that would block Mr. Trump from declaring a national emergency to build his border wall—an act of defiance that he has vowed to overturn with the first veto of his presidency. (“VETO!” the president tweeted at 3:16 p.m. on March 14.)

“We’re saying today, ‘No, we do not acquiesce to this,’” Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said after voting to block the emergency declaration, the Times reported. “We do not agree that the president should be able to come in and go against the express intention of the Congress when it comes to these appropriated funds” for his wall.

Murkowski added in a statement on her website, “”I take very seriously my oath to uphold the Constitution, and my respect for the balance within the separation of powers. Article 1 provides that the power to appropriate lies with the legislative branch. When the executive branch goes around the express intention of Congress on matters within its jurisdiction, we must speak up or legislative acquiescence will erode our constitutional authority. We can and must address the President’s very legitimate concerns over border security, but we must not do it at the expense of ceding Congress’ power of the purse.”

According to the news outlet, “The series of votes vividly demonstrated a newfound willingness to stand up to the president among some of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill. And they underscored a deep frustration in Congress about the president’s supposed scorn for a coequal branch of government.”

“We have an issue that has been litigated and adjudicated through Congress. I mean, what was more litigated than this very question? We had a government shutdown for crying out loud,” said Senator Patrick Toomey ( R-Pennsylvania) referring to funding for the border wall, which Mr. Trump is trying to secure with an emergency declaration that would circumvent Congress.

“It’s about separation of powers,” Toomey said. “It’s about respecting the principles of the Constitution.”

But for those who continue in lockstep with the president, the votes were merely a challenge to his authority that he would easily overcome. “He feels good,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a close ally of Mr. Trump who, the Times said, talked to the president shortly after the vote. “He said, ‘My veto will be sustained?’ I said, ‘Yeah, overwhelmingly.’ He feels like his commitment to build the wall is moving forward.”

Research contact: @nytimes

McConnell: Move to make Election Day a federal holiday is a ‘partisan power grab’ by Dems

February 1, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said on December 30 that a Democratic bill (HR.1) that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a “partisan power grab.”

In an online statement, McConnell said he would fight the bill because, “…when Washington politicians suddenly decide their top priority is grabbing unprecedented control over how they get elected and sent to Washington in the first place, alarm bells should start ringing all over the place. After all, Article I, Section IV of the Constitution clearly gives state legislatures primary responsibility for—quote—the ‘Times, Places, and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives.’

However, the Majority Leader failed to add that the same section of the Constitution grants that “Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing [sic] Senators.”

In his remarks, McConnell asserted that, with the highest turnouts ever in recent elections, this is not the time “in American history when it has come to that,”  adding, “…There is no objective basis for the sweeping federal takeover of elections that House Democrats have dreamed up. No emergency. It’s just a Washington D.C. power grab for its very own sake.”

According to a report by The Washington Post, the far-reaching legislation also would:

  • Prohibit the purging of voter rolls,
  • Require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release their tax returns,
  • Compel states to adopt independent redistricting commissions, and
  • Create a matching system for small-dollar donations to congressional campaigns, among other changes.

In his Wednesday remarks, as well as in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this month, McConnell mocked the legislation as the “Democrat Politician Protection Act.”

“H.R. 1 would victimize every American taxpayer by pouring their money into expensive new subsidies that don’t even pass the laugh test,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

His remarks prompted a wave of criticism by Democrats, some of whom argued that McConnell was acknowledging that Republicans want to make it more difficult for Americans to vote.

Voting is a power grab. By citizens,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) posted in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-New York) shared a link to a story about McConnell’s comments and tweeted, “Why are Republicans always afraid of making it easier for Americans to vote?”

Research contact: felicia.sonmez@washpost.comR.

Senate axes Trump policy that allowed political nonprofits to hide names of donors

December 14, 2018

In a rare rebuff to the White House, the U.S. Senate passed legislation on December 12 to reverse a Trump administration policy that limits donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits, Politico reported.

In a 50-49 vote, the Senate approved a Resolution of Disapproval introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to repeal a controversial new rule—Returns by Exempt Organizations and Returns by Certain Non-Exempt Organizationswhich they said allowed “dark money groups to hide the identities of their donors.”

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)—who is not known for facing off with her Republican colleagues in final votes—joined every Democrat in support of the measure, which required only a simple majority to pass under the Congressional Review Act.

“These dark money forces are a threat to our democracy and they must be reined in,”Tester commented, adding, “Today’s action sheds more light on the wealthy few who are trying to buy our elections and drown out the voices of regular folks. We must wrestle our country back and continue to bring transparency and accountability back to political campaigns.”

Tester had been optimistic earlier this week about the resolution’s prospects.“I think it’s gonna be close but I think we’ve got the votes,” he said on December 11, according to Politico.

“Today the Senate voted on a bipartisan basis to throw out Trump’s dark money rule and bring transparency back to our elections,” Wyden saidThis is a huge first step in America’s fight against anonymous political insiders looking to tighten their grip on Washington. I urge [House Speaker] Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to act swiftly on this issue of great importance and lead the House in reversing course on the Trump administration’s reckless decision.”

Predictably enough, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) was opposed to the vote, remarking that the resolution was an “attempt by some of our Democratic colleagues to undo a pro-privacy reform. … In a climate that is increasingly hostile to certain kinds of political expression and open debate, the last thing Washington needs to do is to chill the exercise of free speech and add to the sense of intimidation.”

The measure is unlikely to be taken up by the GOP-controlled House—and it was opposed by conservative groups, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Politico reported.

“We are committed to enhancing government transparency, protecting the privacy of American citizens, and the freedom of association enshrined in the Constitution,” Brent Gardner, AFP’s chief government affairs officer said in a statement “S.J. Res. 64 fails on all of these fronts.”

Research contact: @marianne_levine

Mitch McConnell: GOP intends to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid after midterms

October 26, 2018

It’s the talk of the Beltway, according to the Los Angeles Times: Did Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) just admit that the GOP intends to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid after the midterm elections?

The scuttlebutt started, the Times reported on October 19, after the Senate majority leader gave an interview to Bloomberg  on October 16, in which he singled out “entitlements”—that’s political code for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—as “the real drivers of the debt” and called for them to be adjusted “to the demographics of the future.”

To make it short and sweet, McConnell intends to cut benefits.

Indeed, Bloomberg said, the Senate Majority Leader blamed rising federal deficits and debt on “a bipartisan unwillingness to contain spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.”

What’s more, although Republican legislators spent most of last winter trying to gut the Affordable Care Act, McConnell also telegraphed a plan to try again to repeal healthcare coverage after the midterm elections.

That’s despite indications that the ACA is becoming more popular with the public, not less, and voters’ concerns about preserving its protections for those with preexisting conditions may be driving them to the polls — and not to vote Republican. A poll released on October 18 by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found that fully 71% of U.S. voters say healthcare is the most important issue driving them to the polls in the midterm elections.

In an October 17 interview with Reuters, McConnell commented that the GOP’s failure to repeal the ACA was “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”  He said Republicans could try again to repeal Obamacare if they win enough seats in U.S. elections next month.

The CBO projects the current fiscal year deficit at $973 billion, and says it expects annual deficits to exceed $1 trillion into the next decade. The CBO attributed much of the deficit to “recently enacted legislative changes. … In particular, provisions of the 2017 tax act.”

The Congressional Budget office sees things differently. The CBO projects the current fiscal year deficit at $973 billion, and says it expects annual deficits to exceed $1 trillion into the next decade. The CBO attributed much of the deficit to “recently enacted legislative changes. … In particular, provisions of the 2017 tax act.”

Research contact: @hitzikm

McConnell: Putin will not be welcomed by Congress

July 26, 2018

Even as the White House continues to work on setting up another summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin—this one, tentatively scheduled for November—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said on July 24 that the Kremlin’s strongman will not be invited to the U.S. Capitol, The Hill reported.

McConnell, who has been reticent about addressing or reacting to President Donald Trump’s “kinship” with the Kremlin, told reporters this week, “I can only speak for the Congress. The speaker and I have made it clear that Putin will not be welcome up here, at the Capitol.”

McConnell’s comments come after his spokesperson said last week that there were no plans to invite Putin to the Capitol if he comes to D.C.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said separately on July 24 that “we will certainly not be giving him an invitation to do a joint session.”

Congressional leadership has previously extended invitations to foreign leaders traveling to the Beltway to visit Capitol Hill. French President Emmanuel Macron, for example, delivered an address before Congress during his trip to the United States in April.

But the vocal opposition from GOP leadership to Putin visiting the Capitol marks another break between congressional Republicans and the White House when it comes to Russia.

Trump sparked widespread bipartisan backlash last week when he refused to condemn Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election during a press conference with Putin in Helsinki on July 16.

Americans don’t think President Trump has been tough enough on Russia, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted after Trump’s summit in Helsinki. Nearly two-thirds said so, and it wasn’t just Democrats. Almost half of Republicans surveyed (47%) also said Trump hasn’t been tough enough on Russia, with just 20% saying he has taken about the right approach.

Research contact: @maristpoll