Several weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News, “Exactly how we go forward, I’m going to coordinate with the President’s lawyers. The case is so darn weak coming over from the House. We all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the President is going to be removed from office.”
Speaking with KTUU (CBS affiliate in Anchorage, AK) a week ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) indicated she was not quite on board with McConnell’s impeachment strategy. She said, “And in fairness, when I heard that I was disturbed. To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so when I heard what Leader McConnell has said, I happened to think that further confused the process.” Too much ink has been spilled on her remarks already.
It should come as no surprise to hear that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) echoed Murkowski’s sentiments in an interview with Maine Public Radio on Monday. Collins said, “I’ve heard the Senate majority leader saying that he’s taking his cues from the White House, There are senators on both sides of the aisle, who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging this in an impartial way.” She also told the radio station she was “open to witnesses.”
Frankly, I think it’s a ridiculous point to make. Murkowski and Collins would be hard-pressed to come up with even a handful, if any, of Senators who are truly impartial on this subject. The Senate is a political body. Politicians have opinions, usually strong ones.
The idea of an “impartial politician” is an oxymoron. In a recent post, I wrote: “I have to ask, is it even possible to find an impartial Senator? How many Congressmen or women were impartial during the impeachment inquiry? Not even the two who voted against impeachment were impartial. They had an opinion.”
This is not a jury trial in a federal court. The Senators cannot be expected to be impartial.
Is Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) impartial? He’s about as impartial as Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff are. Does that bother Sens. Collins or Murkowski?
What’s disturbing is, after witnessing the House Democrats’ travesty of an impeachment inquiry, Collins and Murkowski would worry about Mitch McConnell’s lack of fairness.
We all expected that these two women would put up some resistance to a fast acquittal in the Senate. As the House impeachment inquiry has progressed, and lawmakers began to anticipate what a Senate trial would look like, Collins and Murkowski always made the list of Republican senators whose votes against impeachment could not be counted on.
The Washington Post recently published a list of fourteen Republican Senators “who have expressed concerns about Trump’s actions, but none who says they agree with his impeachment, much less that he should be removed from office.” This group includes Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), Roy Blunt (MO), Richard Burr (NC), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Crapo (ID), Charles Grassley (IA), Johnny Isakson (GA) who is retiring, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Marco Rubio (FL), Ben Sasse (NE), John Thune (SD), and Patrick Toomey (PA).
The important words here are “none who say they agree with Trump’s impeachment, much less that he should be removed from office.”
The Republicans currently have 53 seats in Congress. The Senate requires 67 votes to convict the President. If all fourteen Republicans on the above list voted to convict, the odds of which are next to nil, they would still need six more Republicans to vote for the President’s removal.
As for Sens. Murkowski and Collins, who knows how they will vote? Murkowski, who hates Donald Trump, will probably vote to convict him. My guess is that Collins, after making a big show of her impartiality, perhaps because she is facing a tough race this year herself, will vote against.