The first rule of jury tampering is — well, it’s don’t, but the second rule is to tamper to make them sympathetic to your case. Yesterday, Jerrold Nadler accused Senate Republicans of taking part in a “cover up” in remarks that eventually drew a rebuke from presiding Chief Justice John Roberts. Rather than inspire moderates within the caucus, however, Nadler’s comments drew fire from one of the votes Democrats think might be within their reach — Lisa Murkowski, who was still steaming over Nadler’s insult hours later:
“I took it as very offensive. As one who is listening attentively and working hard to get to a fair process, I was offended,” swing-vote Lisa Murkowski said tonight of Nadler’s presentation last night and his accusation of a GOP coverup
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 23, 2020
Murkowski isn’t just one of the potential swing votes, she might be the swingiest among them. Still a Republican, Murkowski likely still resents that she had to run as write-in after the party threw her under the bus in her 2011 primary election. She voted against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, too, and refused (along with Susan Collins) to come along on Trump’s ObamaCare repeal plan, setting it up for failure with the late John McCain’s opposing vote. Of all the Senate GOP votes Democrats could get, Murkowski’s was the most promising.
Was being the operative word, perhaps. Republicans quickly pointed out that attacking the jury before getting more than a few words into the opening of the case was not the brightest strategy in the world. USA Today presents it as a case of — what else? — Republicans pouncing:
Republicans quickly jumped on the admonishment, arguing Nadler attacked the jury and it would not bode well for Democrats who will have to convince at least four Republicans that additional witnesses and documents should be subpoenaed as part of the trial.
“They managed to alienate senators, attack their own jury,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “If the point was to try to convince people, I think they’re off to a terrible start.” He added that house managers have “a lot of work to do, to try to win back over senators.”
“If the Democrats are smart, they won’t put Jerry Nadler on the field again,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). “He was so out of line. It’s offensive accusing us of a cover-up.”
“To my Democratic colleagues, you can say what you want about me, but I’m covering up nothing,” added Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally. “I’m exposing your hatred of the president.”
Democrats also worried publicly about it, with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) trying to play it off as both sides overstepping decorum. Only one side needs votes from the other party, however, and that fact did not escape their notice. Perhaps this was just a coincidence, but after the session yesterday, Adam Schiff refused to allow reporters to ask any questions of Nadler. CNN’s Manu Raju tried to ask Nadler about his eruption as Nadler was present at the presser, but Schiff shut him down:
Murkowski might let this slide, but then again, she might not when it comes to voting on whether to subpoena further witnesses. Perhaps she will have seen and heard enough at that point to bring this circus to an end. And even if she hasn’t seen and heard enough, it’s likely that Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Cory Gardner will have.