For a moment Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to echo House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Moments like this are why the United States Senate exists. The moment the framers feared has arrived," the Kentucky Republican said from the Senate floor, per the Hill. Of course, McConnell wasn't referring to the crimes laid out in two articles of impeachment against President Trump, passed by House Democrats on Wednesday, but rather the impeachment itself. "It was the predetermined end of a partisan crusade"—a "rushed and rigged inquiry," he railed in a 30-minute speech, claiming Democrats "gave into a temptation that every other House in our history has managed to resist" simply because they "disagree with a presidential act." They've set a "toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future," McConnell went on.
He said it was "comical" that Democrats rushed impeachment but are now "content to sit on their hands," a reference to Pelosi's threat to delay sending impeachment articles to the Senate, per Politico. McConnell claimed the Trump administration's refusal to comply with the inquiry was "routine" and that the Senate wouldn't aim to "fix House Democrats' failures" with witnesses. It's the Senate's role to "safeguard institutions from the momentary hysteria," he said. And while he didn't exactly call for an acquittal, he said "it could not be clearer which outcome would serve the stabilizing, institution-preserving, fever-breaking role for which the United States Senate was created and which outcome would betray it." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told CBS News earlier Thursday that "McConnell is hiding the truth." (Here's what's next.)