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McConnell on Senate impeachment trial: "I'm not an impartial juror"

McConnell.
Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that he will not act as an "impartial juror" in the likely event of a Senate trial, stating: "This is a political process."

Why it matters: Senators must take the following oath before being sworn in for an impeachment trial: "I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be,) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [name of person being impeached], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: so help me God."

  • A number of Republican senators have cited the impartiality requirement to ward off questions on impeachment, but McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have been open about their intentions to acquit Trump as fast as possible.

Between the lines: McConnell has been working in close coordination with the White House over impeachment.

  • McConnell is expected to limit a Senate trial to roughly two weeks, in a plan agreed to by Trump, and he is refusing to call new witnesses requested by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
  • In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell said it's the House's job to investigate: "If they fail, they fail. It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to guilty. That would hardly be impartial justice."

Go deeper: Inside the McConnell-Trump impeachment trial playbook