Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that he will coordinate closely with the White House on the looming Senate impeachment trial. The comments caused an uproar, with Democrats suggesting that any coordination between the top Republican and President Donald Trump's White House would lead to an impartial trial.
Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana appeared Saturday on CNN to defend McConnell against these accusations, arguing that Democrats are misinterpreting the Republican leader's comments, Raw Story reports. Johnson was grilled by anchor Martin Savidge, who opened the discussion by asking about the alleged lack of impartiality.
"You know, I've actually talked about this with some of my Democrat colleagues, those who are very much in favor of impeachment," Johnson said, arguing that McConnell was actually talking about the scheduling the process.
"The way I heard that, Mitch McConnell is talking about the scheduling of the trial, what length of trial or what would be involved with that, with the White House, which is not unprecedented," the lawmaker said, pointing to former President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.
During Clinton's trial, Johnson argued, Democratic leaders coordinated with the White House.
"I think he's talking about how long will be allowed for this to go forward so I don't think there's anything inappropriate about that," he said of McConnell's comments.
Savidge continued grilling his guest, asking whether or not he believes McConnell's vow is the equivalent of a juror making up his mind before trial.
Johnson pushed back against the anchor's parallel, positing once again that Democrats are misinterpreting the top Republican's comments.
"Democrats hear it differently, of course. They interpret it differently," he said, adding that McConnell will explain in the coming days what he meant by his comments.
As Raw Story notes, the top Republican did not only say that he will coordinate with the White House, but he also boasted that there is "no chance" the GOP-controlled Senate would ever vote to convict Trump, which appears to suggest that critics' complaints about lack of impartiality are not unfounded.Republicans, who have defended Trump against all Democratic accusations, are not expected to vote to convict the president. Some have speculated, however, that a certain number of Republicans may deflect. Douglas MacKinnon, a Republican operative who worked for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, warned the White House against underestimating the dangers of the trial.
According to MacKinnon, vulnerable Republican senators, who allegedly demean Trump in private, may be willing to vote to convict him. The GOP operative claims that these "seemingly loyal" senators may, in fact, be setting a trap for the commander-in-chief.