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Schumer weaponizes impeachment trial debate

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Chuck Schumer is working carefully to get buy-in from the entire Senate Democratic Caucus for his gambit to line up Trump administration officials for the president’s impeachment trial, hoping party unity among Democrats could lead to surprising results on the Senate floor.

Schumer said in an interview Tuesday there has been “no dissension” among his 47-member caucus, giving him an outside shot at getting vulnerable and independent-minded Republicans to back his plan to bring the acting White House chief of staff to testify.

Schumer’s calling card during his three years as minority leader has been unity: No defections on Obamacare repeal or tax cuts, just a handful on Supreme Court nominees and little party infighting compared to the Republicans and President Donald Trump. He emphasized that he discussed his plan during party meetings to drive a hard bargain with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the parameters of an impeachment trial.

But when the going gets tough and vulnerable senator Doug Jones and moderates Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are forced to choose whether they acquit the president or remove him from office, Schumer’s ready to back off.

“I always talk to my members and give them my logic,” Schumer said of the upcoming impeachment trial. “No one's going to lose a committee assignment or be drummed out of this or drummed out of that because they do something I don't want. That's not how I operate.”

Schumer is engaged in an aggressive campaign to change the narrative of what for weeks has appeared an utterly partisan acquittal vote of Trump by McConnell and Senate Republicans. He’s seeking to drive a witness wedge among Republicans and disrupt their own party unity, first in a letter to McConnell Sunday night that served as an opening offer for the trial, then in TV hits and a press conference on Monday and finally in a series of interviews with print reporters.

“Even if McConnell doesn't want it, I........

© Politico