Does anyone really think senators on either side of the aisle are impartial about Donald Trump and the House impeachment? Come on man, Mitch McConnell told Fox & Friends this morning. If Senate Democrats were truly concerned about impartiality, the Senate Majority Leader said, they’d have no trouble adopting the same rules for the upcoming impeachment trial that got adopted 100-0 twenty years ago for Bill Clinton’s trial.
Besides, which Senate Democrats have demurred on publicly commenting on Trump’s alleged guilt?
“Do you think Chuck Schumer is impartial? Do you think Elizabeth Warren is impartial? Bernie Sanders is impartial? So let’s quit the charade. This is a political exercise. … All I’m asking of Schumer is that we treat Trump the same way we treated Clinton.
“We had a procedure that was approved 100 to nothing — Schumer voted for it, to go through the opening arguments, to have a written question period, and then, based upon that, deciding what witnesses to call. We haven’t ruled out witnesses. We’ve said let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair.”
This is a very good response to allegations that McConnell is engaging in undue partisanship, although don’t expect to see much acknowledgment of it in the media. The Senate has a bipartisan precedent for handling an impeachment trial. If Schumer is truly interested in impartiality, then he should have already accepted McConnell’s offer to simply adopt those as the rules for this trial as well. Otherwise, it’s Schumer who should be explaining why those were fine for Clinton but not for Trump without first taking a position either on partisan grounds or a presupposition that Trump is guilty.
At this point, at least, nothing’s moving — and McConnell says nothing will before Nancy Pelosi gets around to sending over the articles of impeachment. The longer that takes, McConnell warns, the more voters will be wondering why they rushed into impeachment in an election year:
MCCONNELL was asked if he had spoken to Schumer: “Yeah, before we left town. Look, we’re at an impasse. We can’t do anything until the speaker sends the papers over, so everybody enjoy the holidays.”
“THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, if they think this is a very significant episode, can take it into account we’re voting [next] year. Most people that I run into, whether they are fans of the president or not, say, ‘Well, why don’t you just let us decide this. We’re in the middle of the election.’”
That’s the same point I made in my column last week, too. Not only have Senate Democrats’ most prominent members been anything but impartial, but they haven’t explained why voters shouldn’t just make this decision. In the end, they’re stuck with it anyway:
Even if strict impartiality was the standard, though, McConnell was hardly the first to fall short of it. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Cali.) endorsed impeachment on Twitter a few hours ahead of the vote, and that wasn’t even her first time in doing so. In last month’s Democratic presidential debate, three of her Senate colleagues running for the nomination endorsed impeachment as well — Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Warren said she would exhort Republicans to convict, and Harris referred to Trump as “a criminal living in the White House.” Ginsburg’s impartial jury pool is thinning out on both sides of the aisle.
The demands for impartiality are really just a smokescreen for an impeachment debacle borne out of hyperpartisanship and personal animosity. What began as a politicized stunt will eventually end in a politicized stalemate, and voters will have the last word. As they should.
McConnell tells the F&F panel that he believes that Pelosi will send the impeachment articles soon enough, calling the delay “an absurd position.” That’s almost certainly true, since there is nothing to be gained by the delay and a lot to lose for Democrats who are watching support for impeachment drain away. If Pelosi wants to hold onto those articles, McConnell would be delighted to use the Senate’s time to confirm more judges to the federal bench. That would make for “happy holidays” at the White House, indeed.