Watchdog group requests ethics probe into McConnell over impeachment remarks

A watchdog group is asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: Trump is ‘impeached for life’ Trump hits Senate for giving impeachment ‘credibility’ by holding trial Trump bemoans ‘stigma’ of impeachment MORE (R-Ky.) over his pledge to not be impartial during the upcoming impeachment trial. 

Public Citizen filed a complaint with the committee on Monday questioning if the GOP leader has violated both the U.S. Constitution and the Senate’s rules.

“The public declarations by Senator McConnell that his role in the impeachment process is to coordinate with the White House and thereby make a mockery of the trial directly contradict his oath of impartiality,” Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, said in a statement. 

McConnell has come under criticism for his public statements about coordinating with the White House on impeachment trial strategy. He also told reporters during a press conference that he is not an “impartial juror” in the upcoming trial. 

The outside group, in its letter to the Ethics Committee, argued that McConnell’s comments are “contrary to this oath of impartiality.” 

“McConnell’s comment appears to directly contradict the Senate rules oath – not because he recognizes that impeachment is a political process or because he enters the process believing President TrumpDonald John TrumpCoalition forms to back Trump rollback of major environmental law Canadian CEO blasts Trump over downed plane in Iran: ‘I am livid’ Business groups worry they won’t see a Phase 2 Trump-China trade deal MORE should be acquitted, but by his direct statement that he will not be impartial,” the letter reads. 

The group is asking the Ethics Committee to investigate if McConnell violated either the Constitution or the Senate rules “and, if that is found to be the case, take appropriate remedial actions through recusal from the impeachment proceedings.”

Monday’s letter comes as the House is poised to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate this week, kicking off the trial after a weeks-long delay over the rules.

GOP senators have defended the Republican leader, noting that Democrats have criticized McConnell for his comments on coordinating with the White House even as Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCongressional leaders have been shadow boxing on impeachment Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week Enes Kanter sees political stardom — after NBA and WWE MORE (D-N.Y.) has been in regular contact with House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats scramble to rein in Trump’s Iran war powers Pelosi: Trump is ‘impeached for life’ Trump hits Senate for giving impeachment ‘credibility’ by holding trial MORE (D-Calif.) about the strategy for Democrats. 

Schumer previously told MSNBC’s Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowTucker Carlson delivers program’s largest audience during Iranian missile strike coverage Fox News hits highest viewership in network’s 23-year history Former health insurance executive: Buttigieg uses industry talking points against progressive health care policy MORE that he and Pelosi were “talking to each other” about impeachment strategy, though he declined to characterize their conversations as “coordinating.” 

Schumer also pledged, during his 1998 Senate campaign, that he would vote to acquit then-President Clinton if he won. Schumer was both a member of the House during its impeachment inquiry and a member of the Senate during the impeachment trial. 

“This is not a criminal trial, but this is something the Founding Fathers decided to put in a body that was susceptible to the whims of politics,” he told CNN’s Larry King in 1999 about his decision to take part in the trial.

Republicans have also been quick to point out that some Democratic senators have said that Trump should be removed from office, and several senators running for the Democratic presidential nomination would stand to benefit if Trump was convicted and removed from office.

During an interview with “Fox & Friends” last month, the GOP leader knocked the idea that Schumer, or Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenLocal New Hampshire SEIU branch bucks national union to endorse Sanders Warren: ‘Disappointed’ to hear Sanders urging volunteers ‘to trash me’ Sanders fires back at Trump: Polling surge ‘means you’re going to lose’ MORE (D-Mass.) or Bernie SandersBernie SandersCardi B: ‘I think I want to be a politician’ Local New Hampshire SEIU branch bucks national union to endorse Sanders Warren: ‘Disappointed’ to hear Sanders urging volunteers ‘to trash me’ MORE (I-Vt.) would act as impartial judges during the president’s Senate trial.

“Do you think Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCongressional leaders have been shadow boxing on impeachment Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week Enes Kanter sees political stardom — after NBA and WWE MORE is impartial? Do you think Elizabeth Warren is impartial? Bernie Sanders is impartial? So let’s quit the charade. This is a political exercise. … All I’m asking of Schumer is that we treat Trump the same way we treated [President] Clinton,” McConnell said at the time.

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