Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made it clear this week that the route the Senate takes to reach its conclusion on impeachment is trivial when the outcome’s predetermined.
“I will say, I’m pretty sure how it’s likely to end,” McConnell said Tuesday. “If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question it would not lead to a removal.”
While the end-result reached by a Republican-majority Senate is seemingly a foregone conclusion, many Trump allies are urging McConnell to think long and hard about how he allows proceedings to take place.
The effort may not be coordinated, but pro-Trump pundits outside the beltway have projected a unified message in recent weeks, calling on McConnell to ditch the notion of a fair trial and urging the majority leader to either only allow for something short and sweet or to dismiss the articles of impeachment outright.
In the most recent push to pressure McConnell away from a protocol, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt urged McConnell to harken back to his glory days, when he stonewalled the Obama administration from rightfully appointing a Supreme Court justice to replace the late-Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed in the last year of Obama’s second term. In a Washington Post column Thursday, Hewitt admitted he once favored the idea of an extensive trial that would allow Republicans to poke holes in the House’s evidence and, ultimately, keep some Democratic 2020 contenders out of Iowa and New Hampshire. But, he argued, a long or short trial would also give legitimacy to Democrats’ inquiry.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh have both made similar arguments in recent weeks, pressing the majority leader to ignore rules they deemed arbitrary and outright kill the inquiry on arrival. Giuliani said it would be “horrible” if the Senate decided to host a trial.
Limbaugh had more biting words for McConnell.
“The Turtle said, ‘Hey, if we do it, there’s gotta be a trial.’ There’s nobody in official Republican strata that’s trying to refute this! They’re all dealing with it as though it’s a fait accompli. It’s not a fait accompli. But, see, there’s a whole different mentality about this stuff when you live in the Beltway,” he said on his show last month.
Fox News’ Laura Ingraham urged McConnell in a similar direction, but under the caveat of a rule change that was also championed by the National Review in early October. Ingraham suggested on her show at the end of last month that McConnell allow Democrats to have their trial, but to make it “blisteringly short.”
“(Give) Democrats maybe an afternoon to put on their sham case,” she said. “Republicans in the Senate need to step up or get out.”
Mum’s the word on what direction McConnell plans to take. While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has made it clear he wants an adequate trial, McConnell told Politico this week that he has not yet met with the other side to determine the chamber’s course of action.
But given the vicious divide over the legitimacy of the impeachment probe, it’s safe to assume this Senate will likely not take a page from the Clinton impeachment-era Senate and hash out a bipartisan deal in the Old Senate Chamber.