McConnell Calling The Shots As Trump Molds His Impeachment Defense Team

President Donald Trump chats with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) upon arrival at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, on October 13, 2018. (Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 13, 2020 9:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump has started to mold his impeachment defense team, taking his cues from Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) even when the two disagree.

According to the New York Times, Trump is pushing for three of his most loyal congressional deputies to be involved: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Doug Collins (R-GA) and John Ratcliffe (R-TX). McConnell is advising against their inclusion, taking the air out of Trump’s sails.

The two are also at odds over the structure of the trial itself. Trump has tweeted that he’d like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) to be called as witnesses. McConnell, per the Times, has been telling colleagues that calling witnesses only introduces a degree of uncertainty and uncontrollability into the proceedings. Trump has reportedly said that he’ll follow McConnell’s lead.

A more solid part of the trial will be the inclusion of White House lawyer Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow. Both are expected to have speaking roles. For Sekulow, this won’t come as much of a change — he hosts a daily radio show and makes regular television appearances. Cipollone is a much more under-the-radar figure.

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