In a commentary for MSNBC, contributor Steve Benen echoed former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R) who made the case that history will not look kindly upon Republican senators who are planning to give Donald Trump a pass in his impeachment trial, saying they are all on trial now.
With multiple Republican senators facing uphill battles for re-election in 2020 with Trump likely heading the ticket, the MSNBC contributor claimed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made their task even harder with the impeachment trial rules he hopes to impose on the Senate.
As NBC notes, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will allot each side a total of 24 hours to present their arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but the time must be confined to two working days, according to the text of his organizing resolution, which NBC News obtained Monday. The proposal also suggests that none of the evidence collected as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry will be admitted automatically. Instead, according to the text, the Senate will vote later on whether to admit any documents.”
“Not to put too fine a point on this, but it appears the fix is in – or at least it will be, if McConnell’s plan is implemented,” Benen explained. “The timing of the announcement was itself notable: the Senate GOP leadership team had a month to present a proposed set of rules for the presidential impeachment trial, but McConnell waited until last night to unveil them, narrowing the window for members to evaluate the blueprint and craft possible amendments.”
Referring to Flake’s comment directed at his former colleagues (“President Trump is on trial. But in a very real sense, so are you. And so is the political party to which we belong.”) Benen writes, “McConnell’s blueprint includes no guarantees of witness testimony, no guarantees that senators will be able to consider new evidence, and no guarantees that the trial will even allow the evidence collected through the House impeachment investigation to be admitted in the Senate proceedings.”
“To be sure, that may yet change. There will be votes, for example, on proposed amendments to the Senate majority leader’s proposed game plan. What’s more, senators will have opportunities once the trial is underway to vote on introducing information, including witness testimony, and a handful of Republicans have expressed a willingness to do so,” he added, before bluntly noting, “But that’s not the blueprint the GOP leadership has in mind.”
You can read the whole opinion piece here.