Oct 28, 2019

Senators cry "juror" to avoid impeachment questions

Sen. Susan Collins: Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. Sen. Chuck Schumer: Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images.

As pressure grows on senators to take a stance on impeachment, both Republicans and Democrats have argued that their positions as potential jurors in the case against President Trump precludes them from commenting.

The big picture: Trial jurors in traditional criminal cases are not permitted to speak about a case outside of the courtroom. But while the Senate would technically be holding a "trial" against the president in the likely scenario that the House votes to impeach, the trial — which is a political proceeding — would not be held to the same standards as a criminal case.

What they're saying: The Washington Post's Robert Costa and Philip Rucker note that senators are increasingly abstaining from comment as more revelations emerge from the impeachment inquiry.

  • Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho): “I’m a juror and I’m comfortable not speaking."
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.): "I’d be a juror, so I have no comment."
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.): “I don’t need a strategy for impeachment because I may be a juror someday."
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine): "I am very likely to be a juror so to make a predetermined decision on whether or not to convict a president of the United States does not fulfill one’s constitutional responsibilities."

But, but, but: Republicans aren't alone. In an interview with Politico, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, "We're jurors," before adding: "We can push as hard as we can to get all the facts out but … we should wait until we see all the facts to make a determination."

  • “There are senators on both sides of the aisle who have said things that are highly partisan," said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). "And have talked about this as a political endeavor rather than ... to approach it as our job which is a potential jurist."

Between the lines: Not everyone agrees with the argument that being a juror prevents senators from speaking out about Trump's alleged abuses.

  • “We’re not in a jury trial in the classic criminal sense. It is a political proceeding and we shirk our duty to the nation if we fail to talk," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.
  • “I don’t think we should shirk our responsibilities as senators ... just because one day we might be a juror,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said.

Go deeper: How an impeachment inquiry works

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Protests for George Floyd continue for 10th day

Thousands of protesters march over the Brooklyn Bridge on June 4 in New York City. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

All four former Minneapolis police officers have been charged for George Floyd’s death and are in custody, including Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

The latest: A man in Buffalo, New York bled out of one ear and lay motionless on the ground after police pushed him backward at a protest. He was later taken to the hospital and appeared to be alert, per a local reporter on the scene. Officers arrested five people during the protests in Niagara Square, a Buffalo Police Department statement noted.

Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

3 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.