WASHINGTON- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday that he will be in “total coordination with the White House counsel” as the impeachment into President Donald Trump presses forward.
During an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, the Majority Leader said that “everything” he does “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.”
“We don’t have the kind of ball control on this that a typical issue, for example, comes over from the House, if I don’t like it, we don’t take it up,” McConnell stated about an impeachment trial. “We have no choice but to take it up, but we’ll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the President in the well of the Senate.”
The interview came hours after McConnell, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland met privately in the Majority Leader’s office in the U.S. Capitol to discuss the matter.
“The president deserves to have his case heard,” Ueland told reporters as he left McConnell’s office earlier Thursday. “We’re having good, close communication and conversation with Senate Republicans in the event the House goes ahead and actually produces articles of impeachment. We’re going to continue to work closely with Senate Republicans as well as other members of Congress on the questions and continue to be very cooperative and collaborative with our friends up here on the Hill as we work through this process.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., read part of McConnell’s interview out loud during Thursday’s impeachment markup, stating that: “In other words, the jury — Senate Republicans — are going to coordinate with the defendant — Donald Trump — on how exactly the kangaroo court is going to be run.”
According to the rules expressed in the Constitution, during an impeachment trial of the President of the United States, the Senate takes an oath to act as impartial jurors.
While the Democratic-controlled House is likely to vote to impeach the president and send the articles up to the Senate, it will be up to the Senate to conduct a trial on any articles. If two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators, vote to convict, Trump would be removed from office and Vice President Mike Pence would become commander in chief.
The Majority Leader’s interview came on the heels of Senate Republicans sending signals that they did not want to call witnesses that the president has suggested as part of a trial, explaining that it was best to keep the trial short and without the added spectacle of high-profile witnesses.
McConnell told Hannity, “We know how it’s going to end. There’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office.”
“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment and Sean, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell said.
Contributing: Ledyard King, Nicholas Wu, Christal Hayes