Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) on Friday called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to recuse himself from the Senate impeachment trial, citing the GOP leader’s remarks the previous night about coordinating with the White House.
McConnell said during an interview on Fox News on Thursday night that “everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.”
Demings accused the GOP leader of promising to “sabotage” the trial.
“No court in the country would allow a member of the jury to also serve as the accused’s defense attorney. The moment Senator McConnell takes the oath of impartiality required by the Constitution, he will be in violation of that oath,” she said in a statement.
Demings, who sits on the House Intelligence and Judiciary panels that have led the impeachment inquiry, pointed to Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution. The section states: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation.”
The “Oath” is defined by Senate rules and would read: “I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [President Trump], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”
The Hill has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance two articles of impeachment against Trump: one accusing him of abusing his power by leaning on a foreign country to open an investigation into a political rival, and a second accusing him of obstruction of Congress by refusing to comply with the impeachment probe.
Trump has called the impeachment investigation into his dealings with Ukraine a “witch hunt” and urged Republicans to defend him during a Senate trial.
McConnell, who has said a Senate trial won’t begin until January, said this week that he hopes the trial would be a “shorter process rather than a lengthy process”
The GOP leader demurred in the Fox interview on having potential witnesses, saying he would coordinate with Trump’s lawyers.
“The president’s counsel may or may not decide they want to have witnesses. The case is so darn weak coming over from the House,” McConnell added.