Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that his work in the impending Senate impeachment trial would serve out one purpose: helping President Donald Trump avoid any possibility, however remote, of being indicted.
“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House Counsel,” McConnell said in a televised interview. “There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”
Those comments worried a number of Americans, who noted that the Senate was meant to act as an impartial body during any president’s impeachment process. Earlier this week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican herself, said McConnell’s words troubled her.
“When I heard that I was disturbed,” Murkowski said, per prior reporting from HillReporter.com. “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.”
According to a senator from across the political aisle, Murkoski’s comments demonstrate that Republicans might not work lock-step with the majority leader.
Democratic @SenBlumenthal says GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s comments about being “disturbed” by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s impeachment coordination with the White House “reflect cracks in the implacable McConnell wall… her courage could be contagious.” https://t.co/rkavqHMJgT pic.twitter.com/iDBbY3qGWZ
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) December 26, 2019
“I know from having talked to a number of my colleagues that her misgivings reflect the strong reservations that a number of my Republican colleagues feel about this charade and sham that apparently McConnell wants at the behest of the White House,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said in an interview on Thursday, according to a report from Newsweek.
Murkowski’s statement “very definitely reflect cracks in the implacable McConnell wall,” Blumenthal added.
“For [McConnell] to say that he will not be impartial, that he will take his cues from the White House, that he will be acting hand in glove, as Senator Murkowski put it, with President Trump, in effect puts the defendant in charge of his own trial,” Blumenthal explained.
It’s critical for McConnell that no more defections occur in the Republican caucus of the Senate. If just three Republicans chose to defy him or voice concerns about the rulemaking process in the impeachment trial, it could disrupt any attempt by him to make the rules himself, as he needs 51 votes in the chamber to do so.
Presently, articles of impeachment, which were passed by the House earlier this month, are being withheld from the Senate until Democratic leaders can be certain that a fair trial can commence, allowing witnesses and other subpoenaed documents to be made available to impeachment prosecutors.