The problem with Blackburn’s call for Dem recusals in Trump trial

As the Senate prepares for the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, first-year Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wants to see some of her colleagues recuse themselves from the proceedings.

Is she thinking about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who publicly vowed to be in “total coordination” with the White House during the trial? No, Blackburn’s fine with his participation.

Is she concerned about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who’s already bragged that he won’t be “a fair juror,” and who this week said he wants the Senate to “end this crap as quickly as possible”? No, Blackburn is fine Graham’s role, too.

Instead, the far-right Tennessean is pushing for the recusals of the Senate’s Democratic presidential candidates.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, called on the four senators seeking the Democratic nomination for president to recuse themselves from the trial because of “unparalleled political interest” in removing President Trump from office.

The candidates, Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are all expected to leave the campaign trail and take an oath to hear the case against Mr. Trump.

“To participate in this trial would be a failure of the oath they took to be an ‘impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,’” Ms. Blackburn said in a statement. “Their presidential ambitions prohibit their ability to view this trial through an objective lens.”

Blackburn pushed this message on Twitter, and her missive received Donald Trump’s personal endorsement, suggesting he, too, wants Bennet, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren not to participate in the trial.

I have a hunch that’s not going to happen, in large part because the argument doesn’t make sense.

There is, in reality, no conflict of interest. Yes, these Democratic senators are seeking national office, but their votes on Trump’s fate won’t make them president: if senators weigh the evidence, come to terms with his misdeeds, and vote to hold Trump accountable, then Mike Pence would assume the office, not one of the Democratic senators.

“Their presidential ambitions prohibit their ability to view this trial through an objective lens”? I don’t follow the logic. These lawmakers want to be president, so they can’t objectively scrutinize a president’s misdeeds?

Trump’s devotees will have to do better than this.

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