The Republican Leader of the United States (U.S.) Senate Sen. Mitch McConnell has declared that the impeachment of President Donald Trump was based on “partisan rage” and the thinnest of evidence.
But, the minority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer said in rebuttal to McConnell that Republicans showed “cravenness and blind fealty” to Trump in their vote.
McConnell dismissed the impeachment process, saying that Democrats had been talking about impeaching Trump since before he became the Republican candidate for president in 2016.
The White House hit back at lawmakers after Trump was impeached, slamming the “illegitimate articles of impeachment” and voicing confidence the president would be acquitted in the Senate.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to send two articles of impeachment to the chamber. McConnell called the vote a “pre-determined end to a partisan crusade”.
The party-line vote saw Republicans uniformly opposing impeachment. But the vast majority of Democrats voted in favour.
The two articles move to the Senate for a trial expected to take place in 2020.
Trump maintains he did nothing wrong and said again on Wednesday that impeachment was an effort to overturn his election win.
He is accused of abusing his office by soliciting Ukraine to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden, a leading candidate among Democrats bidding to run against Trump next year.
Schumer said he would meet with McConnell soon to discuss the rules of the Senate trial.
“The nation turns its eyes to the Senate,” he said, adding that it is up to the chamber to exercise its check on his power.
“I have little doubt that if we tell the president he can escape scrutiny in this instance he will do it again and again,” Schumer said.
But White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: “Democrats have chosen to proceed on this partisan basis in spite of the fact that the President did absolutely nothing wrong.”
She called the votes in the House of Representatives an “unconstitutional travesty”.
Grisham said there were no fact witnesses in the hearing and alleged bias by the Democrats.
“The President is confident the Senate will restore regular order, fairness, and due process, all of which were ignored in the House proceedings.
“He is prepared for the next steps and confident that he will be fully exonerated,” the statement said, referring to the upcoming trial in the upper chamber.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday predicted that the impeachment would not be upheld by the U.S. Senate.
Putin told a nationally televised news conference that Trump’s Republican Party has the majority in the Senate.
“It’s unlikely that they would want to remove their party’s representative from power for what are in my opinion absolutely fabricated reasons,” Putin said.
He said the Democratic Party was seeking revenge for losing the presidential election to Trump.
“One party that lost the election, the Democratic Party, is achieving results with other methods, accusing Trump of collusion with Russia, then it turns out there was no such collusion,” Putin said.
The Democratic-led House’s passage of two articles of impeachment on a mostly party-line vote sets the stage for a trial next month in the Republican-controlled Senate – a friendlier terrain for Trump – on whether to convict and remove him from office.
No president in the 243-year history of the United States has been removed from office by impeachment. That would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate, meaning at least 20 Republicans would have to join Democrats in voting against Trump – and none have indicated they will.