WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) — Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri blamed the House of Representatives for presenting a “half-baked” case for impeachment against President Trump and placing the onus on the Senate to collect more information to bolster its charges.
“I think it’s a mistake to take this lightly or to act like you can send a half-baked case over to the Senate, and then it’s the Senate’s job to try to figure out how to do what you didn’t do,” Blunt said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”
The House approved two articles of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress last week. The articles, however, have not yet been transmitted to the Senate amid concerns by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the GOP-controlled upper chamber will not conduct a fair trial.
With the House and Senate currently on a two-week break for the holidays, the articles likely won’t be sent to the Senate until at least early January.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer met last week to negotiate the details of the trial. Schumer has called for four witnesses, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, to testify before the upper chamber about Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his Democratic rivals, though McConnell rejected that request.
Motions for evidence and testimony are subject to the approval of a majority of senators, meaning 51 of the 53 Republicans in the chamber can effectively control the proceedings.
Blunt said Sunday there “may be a time” when the Senate decides witnesses are essential, but indicated it was the House’s job to present the upper chamber with all of the information to support its articles of impeachment.
“The House sending over a very vague two charges to the Senate and then assuming it’s the Senate’s job to try to make something out of that takes a process we’re already taking too lightly – impeachment three times in 46 years – and takes it even more lightly,” he said.
Blunt noted that in the country’s first 180 years, presidential impeachment was used just once, but in the last 46 years, it’s been used three times. In addition to Mr. Trump, impeachment was pursued by the House against Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. Clinton was impeached by the lower chamber but acquitted by the Senate, and Nixon resigned before the full House could vote.
“This is a political process no matter how you describe it,” he said.
Blunt also added that it’s a “mistake” for Pelosi to hold on to the House-approved articles, and said he expects the Senate’s impeachment trial will take place in January.