The fix is in. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his lapdog GOP senators want to hold a condensed, sham impeachment trial for Donald Trump in the hopes of exonerating him in the eyes of the American public ahead of the 2020 election.
Earlier today, House Intelligence Committee Chairman and Democratic impeachment manager Adam Schiff slammed McConnell for trying to rig the trial, taking particular issue with McConnell’s push to limit impeachment managers to 24 hours over two days to make their cases.
As Schiff explained, the proposed time constraints could mean the trials run late into the night, ensuring that the public is unable to pay close attention to all the details of the proceedings, an advantageous wrinkle for the Republicans trying to railroad through an acquittal for Trump.
“And finally they are compressing the time of the trial. Whereas the Clinton trial managers had six hours a day to present over the course of days, they are now presenting that we double the amount of time each day so that the proceedings can conceivably go well into the night when apparently Senator McConnell hopes the American people will not be watching. This is not a process for a fair trial. This is the process for a rigged trial,” said Schiff.
Now, it appears that McConnell has caved. NBC News reports that McConnell has made some last-minute handwritten changes to the impeachment rules resolution that the Senate is expected to pass today. The changes would allow three days instead of two for the impeachment managers, meaning that there will be less pressure for those involved to rush through their arguments.
NBC further reports that the sudden shift could be in part because of complaints tendered by some Republicans. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) expressed a desire for longer arguments like those used during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) had “concerns” with the rules.
“Collins and others raised concerns about the 24 hours of opening statements in 2 days and the admission of the house transcript is the record. Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement,” said a spokesperson for Collins.
Importantly, McConnell also changed the rules so that evidence unearthed during the House’s impeachment inquiry will now be automatically admitted into the Senate trial as long as there are no specific objections. Previously, the rules would have required this evidence to be actively voted into the Senate proceedings.
While the above are certainly welcome changes, one can’t help but cynically suspect that they are minor tweaks aimed at given the trial the appearance of nonpartisanship. Now, senators like Collins and Hawley can claim that they pushed for a fair impeachment and use that as cover to vote to acquit Trump. The coming days will reveal the truth of the matter, but the Republican Party’s shameful behavior over the past three years engenders little faith that they’ll act in the best interests of the United States.