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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) call to have four White House witnesses testify in the Senate's likely impeachment trial, arguing that it's the House's "duty to investigate" and that the Senate will not volunteer its time for a "fishing expedition."

"We don’t create impeachments, Mr. President. We judge them. 
"The House chose this road. It is their duty to investigate. It's their duty to meet the very high bar for undoing a national election. As Speaker Pelosi herself once said, it is the House’s obligation to, quote, 'build an ironclad case to act.'
"If they fail, they fail. It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to guilty. That would hardly be impartial justice."
— Sen. McConnell

Context: In a letter to McConnell Sunday night, Schumer proposed that the Senate issue subpoenas for documents related to the Trump administration's decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine, as well as the following witnesses:

  • White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
  • Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair
  • Former national security adviser John Bolton
  • Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey

The big picture: McConnell, who rebuked Schumer for sending a letter that was leaked to the press rather than waiting to meet in person, rejected the notion that it is the Senate's obligation to call new witnesses — even those like the above White House officials who have defied subpoenas in the House impeachment inquiry. He also criticized Democrats for failing to pursue the subpoenas in court, calling it a "rushed process."

  • Axios' Jonathan Swan has reported that McConnell plans to hold a short, possibly two-week trial with no new witnesses — and that President Trump has largely come around on the plan.
  • McConnell has faced intense backlash from Democrats for stating on Fox News that he will closely coordinate with the White House on the Senate trial and that there is "zero chance" Trump will be removed from office.
  • Before beginning an impeachment trial, Senate rules dictate that senators must swear an oath to do "impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws."

The other side: House Democrats argue that enforcing subpoenas for officials like Mulvaney and Bolton would take months to litigate, as it has for former White House counsel Don McGahn. They claim that impeachment is a matter of urgent concern because Trump's conduct poses an ongoing "threat to our election's integrity."

  • Responding to McConnell's comments, Schumer said on the Senate floor that McConnell has offered no "specific reasons" for why the witnesses he's asking for should not be heard.
  • "Each witness we named was directly involved in the events that led to the charges made by the House. ... Senators who oppose this plan will have to explain why less evidence is better than more evidence."

What to watch: McConnell and Schumer still have to meet officially to discuss the layout of the trial, but Schumer said in his floor speech that he will bring votes on specific witnesses. 51 senators are required to call a witness, meaning only a few GOP defections would be necessary.

Go deeper: Inside the McConnell-Trump impeachment trial playbook

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
54 mins ago - Technology

Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Microsoft announced Tuesday it plans to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash.

Why it matters: The move comes as Activision Blizzard has faced a wave of accusations of workplace harassment.

2 hours ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.