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Trump impeachment trial impasse in spotlight on Sunday shows

From left: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), President

From left: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) Credit: AFP via Getty Images/SAUL LOEB

An impasse over how to proceed with the Senate impeachment trial highlighted stark divisions among Republicans and Democrats on the Sunday morning talk show circuit.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been holding onto the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump since the body voted Dec. 18 to impeach the 45th president on charges that he solicited a foreign government to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Democrats said the move to delay transmitting articles of impeachment to the Republican-controlled Senate is aimed at making sure the chamber establishes fair rules in an upcoming trial.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), speaking on ABC's "This Week," said he believed Pelosi would send the articles to the Senate but said both parties are engaged in conversation "about the importance of being able to call witnesses" in a trial.

"If you look at the previous impeachment trials, they all had witnesses," Van Hollen said. "They all had documents. And this should not be different than that."

“A fair trial means you get to call your witnesses," Van Hollen told anchor Jonathan Karl. "If you have a rigged trial, there is no exoneration in acquittal."

He added: "Those who vote against witnesses and vote against documents are essentially telling the American people they don't want to see anything. They don't want to hear anything. And in doing so, you're complicit in a cover-up."

Last week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she was "disturbed" that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) vowed the Senate would be in "total coordination" with the White House over impeachment.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) said on CNN's "State of the Union" that according to case law, "when it comes to impeachment, the rule is that there are virtually no substantive rules."

He added, "There are no standards of proof. There are no rules of evidence. And every senator, unless we pass a new rule by 51 votes in the Senate, is entitled to approach it his own way.

"I thought that the House proceedings were unnecessarily unfair. And when the American people walk away from the Senate trial, if we ever have one, I don't want them saying, well, we were just run over by the same truck twice."

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said of the articles, "it's our duty to turn it over."

He added that Pelosi is "just exposing the fact she has no case and trying to have one more bite at the apple."

He said she was overreaching in her effort to influence the Senate trial. "It's not her role to go over to the Senate. She could run for the Senate if she wants to be a senator."

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