Like many in Washington now, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is over the top.
The trouble started Sunday when he demanded that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell subpoena White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton and two other presidential aides to testify at President Trump’s impeachment trial in January.
When Mr. McConnell rejected that demand Tuesday, Mr. Schumer angrily charged him with cowardice, accusing Republicans of participating in a coverup and declaring he “did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses . . . should not give testimony.”
Mr. Schumer apparently suffers from hearing and processing difficulties.
Mr. McConnell pungently explained why more witnesses should not be called. The majority leader cited the Constitution, which says the House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and the Senate “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” It isn’t “the Senate’s job,” the majority leader said, “to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty.’ ”
If the House wanted to question the White House aide quartet, it should have gone to court to compel testimony. It didn’t, probably because judges would be sympathetic to the administration’s arguments on executive privilege and separation of powers. The Senate, Mr. McConnell argued, should consider only the record the House developed from witnesses before its Intelligence and Judiciary committees, and not go on a “fishing expedition.”
While Mr. Schumer was quick to say that “the House has put together a very, very strong case that the president abused his power,” he surely must know that the case is far from that, especially with the election 46 weeks off.
Still, thorny issues remain for the GOP. Though the White House may want it, the Senate shouldn’t subpoena Hunter and Joe Biden. Their conduct is public knowledge and doesn’t bear on the impeachment case. Hunter traded on his father’s name, and Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company of questionable reputation, paid him big bucks. The vice president proceeded to lecture Ukrainians about corruption while Burisma’s owner was under investigation for it. Joe Biden was blind to this apparent conflict of interest.