Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News Thursday night that while he has “no choice” but to hold a trial if the House votes to impeach President Donald Trump, that does not mean the process will be in any way impartial.
“Everything I do during this I’m coordinating with White House counsel,” said the Kentucky Republican. “There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”
McConnell noted that with “typical” legislative issues he has the power to simply block them from coming up for a vote, as he has done with a number of House-passed bills.
“We have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said of impeachment. “But we’ll be working through this process hopefully in a fairly short period of time in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president.”
Democratic lawmakers viewed McConnell’s comments as unsurprising confirmation that the GOP-controlled Senate has no plans to allow an objective impeachment trial.
“The Majority Leader proudly announcing he is planning to rig the impeachment trial for Trump,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted Thursday night.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told CNN that, “in other words, the jury — Senate Republicans — are going to coordinate with the defendant — Donald Trump — on how exactly the kangaroo court is going to be run.”
McConnell’s comments came after CNN reported Thursday that the Senate Majority Leader met behind closed doors with White House counsel Pat Cipollone “to coordinate closely for an impeachment trial.”
“While no final decisions have been made, McConnell and Cipollone agreed that when a trial begins, the House Democratic impeachment managers would have an opportunity to present, followed by the Trump’s lawyers presenting the President’s defense,” according to CNN. “At the conclusion of the presentations, the White House may provide its own briefing to Senate Republicans about the next steps it would want to see in the trial, including possible witnesses it would like to be called.”
McConnell and other Senate Republicans have reportedly expressed support in private for a rapid impeachment trial that calls no witnesses.
“If Mitch McConnell goes through with his reported plan to hold a sham impeachment trial that acquits President Trump without calling witnesses, it will provide the perfect coda for the corrupt and farcical way Trump’s defenders have handled this saga all throughout,” the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote Thursday.
“In so doing,” Sargent added, “the Senate Majority Leader and other assorted Trump propagandists will be unabashedly enshrining their position as follows: We’ve already decided in advance that the full facts will not persuade us to turn on Trump, no matter how damning they are, so why should we listen to them at all?”