Trump calls for 'impeachment witch hunt' case to be dismissed

US President Donald Trump has called on the Senate to simply dismiss the impeachment case against him.

The extraordinary suggestion came as the House prepares to transmit the charges to the chamber for the historic trial.

The Republican president is giving mixed messages ahead of the House’s landmark vote that will launch the Senate proceedings in a matter of days, only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

Mr Trump faces charges that he abused power by pushing Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and then obstructed Congress.

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First Mr Trump was suggesting his own ideas for trial witnesses, then he said almost the opposite by tweeting that the trial shouldn’t happen at all.

“Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial” over charges he calls a hoax, Mr Trump tweeted, “rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!”

The idea of dismissing the charges against Mr Trump is as bizarre as it is unlikely. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signed on to an outlier proposal circulating last week among conservative senators, but he does not have enough support in the Republican-held chamber to actually do it. It would require a rare rules change similar to the approach Mr McConnell used for Supreme Court confirmations.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned that senators will “pay a price” if they block new witness testimony with a trial that Americans perceive as a “cover-up” for Mr Trump’s actions.

“It’s about a fair trial,” Ms Pelosi told ABC’s ‘This Week’. “The senators who are thinking now about voting for witnesses or not, they will have to be accountable.

“Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay a price,” she added.

Voters are divided over impeachment largely along the nation’s deeply partisan lines and the trial is becoming a high-stakes undertaking at the start of a presidential election year.

A House vote to transmit the articles to the Senate will bring to a close a stand-off between Ms Pelosi and Mr McConnell over the rules for the trial.

The House voted to impeach Mr Trump last month.

Yet ending one showdown merely starts another across the Capitol as the parties try to set the terms of debate over high crimes and misdemeanours.

Democrats want new testimony, particularly from former White House national security adviser John Bolton, who has indicated he will defy Mr Trump’s orders and appear if subpoenaed.

Mr Trump doesn’t want his brash former aide to testify. Republican allies led by Mr McConnell are ready to deliver swift acquittal without new testimony.

Mr Trump first said on Sunday it’s Ms Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff who should both testify, which would be unlikely.

The president said he shouldn’t have to carry the “stigma” of impeachment because he’s done nothing wrong.

Ms Pelosi said the House vote last month means Mr Trump will be “impeached forever” and “for life”.

Mr McConnell is reluctant to enter a divisive Senate debate over witnesses that could split his party and prolong a trial that is already expected to consume weeks of floor time.

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