A House Republican who has presented several impeachment cases in the Senate is warning Democrats their threat to withhold the articles passed against President Trump to gain political leverage may backfire.
“If they are trying to use that as leverage to get the Senate to call witnesses, that will be a huge mistake on their part,” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, told the Washington Examiner.
Sensenbrenner, 76, has managed four House impeachments, one of them against President Bill Clinton in 1998 and three involving the removal of federal judges. He is the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“From my experience with previous impeachments, not just the Clinton one, but also the judicial ones, the Senate really dislikes House members telling the Senate what to do and how to do it,” Sensenbrenner said. “They do that at their great peril.”
Sensenbrenner, along with a dozen other GOP lawmakers, served as a manager in Clinton’s 1999 Senate trial. He was appointed in a House vote that took place right after lawmakers voted to impeach Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice charges.
The House voted to impeach Trump late Wednesday on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But Democrats did not bring up a resolution to appoint impeachment managers.
Instead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said she is waiting to see the terms of the trial Senate Democrats and Republicans negotiate.
Democrats want the Senate to call current and former Trump administration officials as witnesses and to subpoena documents the Trump administration has refused to turn over by asserting executive privilege. McConnell has rejected the request. McConnell plans to meet Thursday with minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, to try to work out an agreement for holding a trial.
Until then, the impeachment process remains in limbo.
Senate lawmakers had planned to hold a trial in January, but it all hinges on Pelosi delivering the articles.
“Without the articles, the Senate can’t hold the trial,” Sensenbrenner told the Washington Examiner. “And if the idea is to remove Trump from office, which we all know isn’t going to happen, rather than just make a political statement for what we have done here for the past two-and-a-half years, then they have to deliver the articles to the Senate.”
Sensenbrenner is retiring from the House after the 2020 elections, ending what will be a 42-year House career.