Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) insistence that Donald Trump won’t be found guilty when his impeachment moves to the upper chamber of Congress may sound like he’s sure of his ability to stack the deck in a way that will assure Trump’s full exoneration, but according to a former top Senate staffer, it’s actually a sign that some Republican senators are already pushing back on McConnell.
Jim Manley is the former chief spokesman for Senator Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate for many years before he retired, and he says McConnell’s crowing on Fox News that he has his caucus in line suggests just the opposite:
“The fact that he’s still hedging his bets and the fact that he made these comments to Fox that are apparently boomeranging a little bit gives me pause about actually where his caucus is.
“I think that there’s still a handful of folks that are really concerned about getting tied to Donald Trump on all of this,especially when news is breaking day in, day out about, you know, different facets of the case.”
Manley then added:
“The interesting dynamic to watch is the fact that, if McConnell would have had this thing sewn up, if he would have had his caucus on board, he would have moved very quickly to try and get this thing up and organized.”
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) December 27, 2019
Just yesterday, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) said she was “disturbed” by McConnell bragging that he was planning “total coordination” with the White House when it came to the Senate trial:
“When I heard that, I was disturbed.”
There are also rumblings that other Republicans are uncomfortable with a sham Senate trial, including Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado, both of whom face uncertain reelection efforts in states that are trending blue as 2020 approaches. Mitt Romney of Utah has also suggested that a trial should be fair and not just a kangaroo court such as McConnell wants to see take place.
The current 53-47 majority held by Senate Republicans is much narrower than it appears, because if only four GOP senators disagree with McConnell and insist that a fair trial must be held, that would shift the balance of power to 51-47 in favor of the Democrats. That would mean witnesses, documents, and all sorts of other things McConnell and the White House are terrified of.
After Congress returns from its holiday recess, keep an eye on Murkowski, Collins, Gardner, and Romney. They may be the ones who force McConnell to do what he fears most: Play fair.