Despite Oath, McConnell Admits He’s Not Impartial On Impeachment

Mitch McConnell and the other 99 members of the Senate will be required to take an oath to "do impartial justice" in the impending impeachment trial. He's already admitted that he won't.

As we get closer to the Senate impeachment trial, Republicans are continuing to demonstrate that this trial will be nothing but a show trial in which Congress’s upper chamber will merely go through the motions of purporting to consider the evidence presented by the House:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says his colleagues should not expect him to handle President Trump’s impeachment trial as an impartial juror.

“I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday while fielding questions about the upcoming trial.

When asked about criticism from Democrats over his pledge to coordinate closely with Trump’s lawyers during the trial, McConnell said his colleagues shouldn’t expect him not to make the proceeding as favorable to Trump as possible.

“I’m not impartial about this at all,” he said.

The GOP leader’s frank admission outraged counterpart, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.).

“He was asked if he was an impartial juror. He seemed to proudly say no.

I would ask every one of our Republican colleagues, ‘Do you want someone who proudly says they’re not impartial to be on a jury?” he asked reporters after McConnell spoke.

“Do the American people want Mitch McConnell not to be an impartial juror in this situation? And I would ask every one of my Republican Senate colleagues, ‘Are you impartial jurors or are you like Mitch

McConnell, proud not to be?'” Schumer said, appearing clearly frustrated with McConnell’s refusal to call key witnesses.

“Leader McConnell, I’m asking you, come to this microphone and give an explicit reason why Mulvaney or Bolton … shouldn’t testify,” he said, referring to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

McConnell’s remarks on Tuesday afternoon backed up an interview he gave last week to Fox News’s Sean Hannity in which he said: “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel.”

“There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can,” he added.

As I have previously noted, prior to the start of the trial next month, the Senate will take the following oath:

I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [Insert name of officer being impeached], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God.

Senator McConnell obviously has no intention of abiding by that oath. Before even hearing the evidence that the House Managers will present, as well as any additional evidence that may be presented during the course of the trial. He has either made up his mind, or he is simply willing to ignore the evidence that will be presented to him against the President. Whether this is because he actually believes what he says or because he is a sycophant pandering to the President and his delusional base supporters in order to protect his own career and the Republican majority in the Senate. Or perhaps because he is a coward unwilling to challenge the President because he fears the backlash of the Trump base in the Republican Party. Whatever the reason may be, the explanation is it’s hardly adequate. I would say that McConnell should be ashamed of himself but he clearly has no shame and there is no limit to how low he will go.

This announcement from the Majority Leader comes amid reports that he could seek to short circuit the entire court process before it even begins:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday that Republicans may seek to dismiss impeachment charges against President Donald Trump after hearing opening statements in a Senate trial.

McConnell made the remarks from the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon. The Majority Leader said that he was using the 1999 Senate trial of President Bill Clinton as a model for a proposed trial of Trump.

In doing so, McConnell suggested that a motion to dismiss would be put forth by Republicans after opening statements.

“By any ordinary legal standard, what House Democrats have assembled would appear to be woefully, woefully inadequate to prove what they want to allege,” McConnell said. “The House should not impeach on this basis in the first place.”

To do this, all McConnell would need to do is make a motion to dismiss before the House Managers begin their presentation of evidence or at any point thereafter. All it would take is 51 out of the 53 Republican Senators to support such a motion and the trial would be dismissed. The only thing that would stop McConnell from doing this is the prospect of losing the vote due to the fact that three or more Senators (the Vice-President could not cast a tie-breaking vote on this motion so a 50-50 tie would be a loss) would not support it since they believe the House should be allowed to present its evidence. If the motion passes, then the trial would be over.

As I have said before, it’s clear that there would not be 20 Republicans who would join with Democrats to convict and remove the President from office. That fact, however, doesn’t make what we’re watching unfold any less outrageous, though. The Constitution gives the Senate the duty to preside over the trial of an impeached President, but these Senators have already made clear that they would put party, and loyalty to the President, ahead of the country. They have made clear that they would essentially ignore whatever evidence might be presented to them regarding the President’s wrongdoing. It’s not surprising, but it is outrageous and it is yet another reason why this party cannot be taken seriously and cannot be trusted with power.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Hear, hear.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    I love how Republicans want it both ways…they howled and howled about how unfairly their dear leader was treated and how he didn’t receive the rights accorded to someone being charged in a court of law but then when they are called on how they deal with impeachment, they fall back on this being a political process rather than it being a legal process…these dissemblers really need to make up their minds…

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Again…the House should impeach Trump, and then put the case in a drawer. Do not give Republicans the ability to run a mockery of a trial. Everyone knows the fix is in. Do not allow the Republicans in the Senate to make Trump a King.
    Leave Impeachment dangling over Trump’s lousy comb-over like a Damocles Sword.

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  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    A point we should be making: corrupt jury verdicts are meaningless. There is therefore no way for Trump to claim acquittal: if you bribe or threaten a jury there can be no true verdict.

    McConnell and Trump have conspired to ensure that Trump can survive, but cannot be cleared. The impeachment will be on Trump’s biography till he dies. The Senate ‘verdict’ will always have an asterisk – an asterisk that points to the guilt of the entire Republican Party.

    Trump will be impeached. He will not be acquitted. History will tell the tale of a corrupt and treasonous president and a party of co-conspirators. We should be telling that story now.

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  5. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    There are no good options.

    I don’t disagree with your assessment. But if the impeachment is filed away, then King Cheeto I can claim he was right, it was a farce, and now even the Democrats admit it. His base will believe anything he tells them, too.

    The only solution is to get rid of Trump, and frankly the means begin to seem less important by the day.

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  6. Joe says:

    I hope we get a well-taped individual record of Mitch McConnell taking the impeachment oath, with his right hand in the air and preferably the other on a bible, so we can run it side-by-side with his floor statement just to impress on anyone how much McConnell honors his oaths.

    McConnell has only one political motivation: “cause I can.”

  7. senyordave says:

    McConnell’s opponent should have an ad with a split screen showing him taking the oath on one side and saying he won’t be an impartial juror on the other side. Maybe also point the conflict of interest he has, with his wife being a Trump cabinet member.

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  8. CSK says:

    Jury nullification on steroids.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    I’d be in favor of waiting to submit the impeachment to the Senate until, say June. Don’t give it time to be forgotten before the election.

  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think the House should table impeachment until the question of Bolton’s testimony is resolved in the courts. Or until Mitch decides its OK to call him as a witness.

  11. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    But I thought steroids made people stronger.

  12. dmichael says:

    I don’t really disagree with most of these comments but the following needs to be kept in mind: 1. Delay in formal submission of articles of impeachment will give Repubs an argument that Dems are afraid of going forward because Dems know that they will lose and all this is politics designed to make this an issue for the 2020 election; 2. Any actual delay will push this matter closer to the election and may limit those candidates who are Dem senators from fully participating in their campaigns; 3. There is no guarantee that delay will keep this matter in the forefront of attention of persuadable voters (assuming that there are any); 4. Dems delaying undercuts their argument that this is a matter of urgency because of the risk of more harm to our elections process and to our national security.

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  13. An Interested Party says:

    @dmichael: It doesn’t matter how the Democrats do this…fast, slow, whatever, no matter what they do, they will be painted in the worst possible way by the Trumpists…this cult of personality is truly disgusting…

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  14. inhumans99 says:

    @dmichael:

    Pelosi gives up any leverage over the tiniest possibility of changing the behavior of the Senate, or at least making a few of the Senators feel like weasels for giving Trump’s criminal acts a pass by promptly sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate (and as I type this out President Trump has in fact been formally impeached by the House). What is the point of sending over the articles when McConnell has bragged that the fix is in, or he decides that he has enough votes to not even have it required that Senators actually say yes or no to whether or not they would impeach.

    Good on her for realizing that people are saying the Dems will be punished at the ballot box if she sends the articles over to the Senate for a vote, and people are also saying that the Dems will be punished if she delays sending the articles…say what now? If she is damned if she does and damned if she does not than it can’t hurt to hold onto the articles until she feels the time is right.

    In many ways, her cottoning onto the idea of delaying the vote in the Senate is a sign that she is thinking like a Republican schemer…and I say you go girl!

    I feel like she is pulling an Art Of War thing here…using the enemy’s playbook against them.

  15. HelloWorld! says:

    If it was a Democratic leader that said that all you would be hearing on the echo chamber is how he needs to resign from leadership.