In early December, before impeachment was even voted upon officially within the House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear that he was going to work with the White House and President Donald Trump directly to ensure a speedy trial in the upper chamber.
“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,” McConnell said in a December interview on Fox News.
To many, McConnell’s recent release of the schedule and rules for how the impeachment trial will function does exactly what he said it would in that interview — and many are not happy with it.
The proposed outline for impeachment that McConnell has proposed would divide 24 hours of opening statements for House impeachment managers and the president’s defense team across two days for each side. Since the trial will not start until 1 p.m. on each day, that means it’s inevitable that statements will last late into the night.
For comparison, during the Clinton impeachment trial, 12 hours of opening statements were spread across four days for each side, CNN reported.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer decried the decision by McConnell to condense the impeachment trial schedule in such a way.
“It’s clear Sen. McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through,” Schumer said. “On something as important as impeachment, Senator McConnell’s resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace.”
Because of the likelihood that statements would last into the morning hours, social media users created the trend #MidnightMitch, and the hashtag soon went viral.
These aren’t rules for a real trial at all, much less a fair one. They’re rules for a rigged outcome, with #MidnightMitch making sure that as much of the so-called trial as possible takes place in the dark of night. https://t.co/y8FyHe4u7i
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 21, 2020
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) January 21, 2020
So @carlbernstein just called @senatemajldr “Midnight Mitch” because it looks like his plan is to hold the trial until after midnight hours to try to have negative evidence come out while Americans are asleep. Make #MidnightMitch trend! We want to see the evidence!
— Ashley will caucus for Warren on 2/22/20 🆘 (@NastyWoman1012) January 21, 2020
Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein slapped Mitch McConnell w/a dark, new moniker: #MidnightMitch
"We're looking at Midnight Mitch & the so-called world's greatest deliberative body, really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see.”pic.twitter.com/NHWxmSQODk
— Stephanie Kennedy (@WordswithSteph) January 21, 2020
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) January 21, 2020
#MidnightMitch has already admitted he’s working hand-in-hand with Trump on the #impeachment trial & violating his oath to be impartial—but his proposed rules for the trial (holding the trial at 1am??) are yet more evidence that he’s helping the White House perpetrate a cover-up. https://t.co/L2TzAeUuuB
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 21, 2020
In addition to the condensed schedule, the Senate rules proposed by McConnell would also require a full vote of the Senate in order to enter any evidence in from the House impeachment inquiry.
That could mean a situation could arise where the evidence may not be entered into the record, and a vote on Trump’s indictment could be made without its consideration by members of the Senate, if McConnell’s rules are accepted.