Senate Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) may have just thrown a wrench into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) plan to collude with President Donald Trump to rig his impeachment trial, potentially setting the stage for an open GOP revolt against his scheme.
Not long after the House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump earlier this month, McConnell openly admitted that he was coordinating the Senate trial proceedings with the White House in order to quickly acquit him regardless of the damning evidence and witness testimony.
That admission forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate until a fair trial is guaranteed instead of the sham trial Trump is demanding.
Behind closed doors, Republicans appear to disagree with McConnell’s scheme. But that disagreement could soon become more publicly vocal, especially since Murkowski spoke out against a rigged trial during an interview with KTUU in Anchorage.
“In fairness, when I heard that I was disturbed,” Murkowski said. “To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process.”
In short, the Senate should not be actively working on the side of the defendant, particularly since they are supposed to act as jurors according to the Constitution and swear an oath to hold a fair and thorough trial, an oath they are already violating before they even recite it.
And so, McConnell now faces a major hitch in his plan to rig the trial in Trump’s favor because Murkowski may embolden other Senate Republicans to speak out, which former Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Little explained to CNN.
“I think there are three main people in the Senate that McConnell needs to look out for,” Little said. “I think Murkowski, Romney, and Collins who may take that tactic and may say, ‘listen, we care about the procedure, the institutional interests of the Senate.’”
“And I think one of the things of inviting in those House managers from the Republican side in Trump’s defense, if it really does become a partisan slugfest, I think they have a chance to lose more Republican senators,” he continued. “This is an interesting impeachment trial. Unlike the Clinton impeachment, the grounds for impeachment against the president are really substantial in a very different way and I think some Republican senators who deeply — if they could, there’s reports if this was done behind closed doors about the vote you’d see 30 Republicans vote to impeach the president. There are some real danger zones for the president and the Senate majority leader.”
Here’s the video via YouTube:
Indeed, a private vote would likely be disastrous for Trump. But a publicly rigged trial would also be disastrous to the country and could spell electoral doom for many Republican senators in 2020 as Americans vote against them for not taking the articles of impeachment seriously. Even McConnell is facing a tough race in Kentucky that he could very well lose.
It’s time for Republicans to choose the country and Constitution over Trump. Hopefully, Murkowski will do more to urge her colleagues to stand up to McConnell. Because if they don’t, the Senate as an institution will never recover.
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