December 16, 2019
President Donald Trump won’t get a “fair or “impartial” trial in the Senate, after impeachment passes the House this coming week. He’ll get the trial that his lawyers and White House advisers tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) say he wants and needs–unburdening him of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice before the 2020 campaign gains steam.
When the trial commences in the Republican-controlled Senate, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside—but the GOP will be able to control much of the length and substance of the process, The Washington Post has reported.
And appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on December 12, McConnell made no bones about saying he’ll endeavor to give the White House whatever kind of trial it wants.
Indeed, according to a report by the Post, McConnell made a point of saying that he would be coordinating with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone every step of the way.
“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel,” McConnell said. “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 later that “exactly how we go forward I’m going to coordinate with the president’s lawyers, so there won’t be any difference between us on how to do this.”
The repetition of the first talking point made pretty clear that McConnell very much intended to say all of this. But it’s worth taking stock of how remarkable a statement it is, The Washington Post opined —noting that “giving the White House any say over how the trial would be handled would be something, but McConnell says he’ll coordinate everything ( and how discordant it is relative to many of his fellow GOP senators).”
The newspaper went on to point out, “Those senators have, in many cases, declined to comment on impeachment and the Ukraine scandal because they will serve as jurors in the Senate trial. For some, it was certainly a cop-out to avoid having to comment on the substance of the Ukraine scandal, which, however you slice it, doesn’t look good for Trump. But now that McConnell is effectively saying he’ll let the defendant’s lawyers dictate how the trial will be handled, those professions of respect for the process ring pretty hollow.”
“I’m a juror, and I’m comfortable not speaking,” Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) told The Washington Post in late October. Pressed again, he said, “I said I’m comfortable not speaking.”
“I don’t need a strategy for impeachment, because I may be a juror someday,” Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) commented to the news outlet
“I’d be a juror, so I have no comment,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) added.
Earlier on Thursday, McConnell met with Cipollone and the administration’s Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. And McConnell said in his Thursday news conference he had not yet sat down with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) to negotiate on the process.
Research contact: @washingtonpost