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Impeachment Expert: ‘First Time in History’ We’ve Seen Trump-Mitch McConnell Type of Coordination on Senate Trial


One of the constitutional law and impeachment expert professors called as a witness by House Democrats said Friday that both he and history have never seen something like what President Donald Trump, White House lawyers and Senate Republicans led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are cooking up.

After it was reported on Thursday afternoon that Senate Majority Leader McConnell met at his office with White House counsel Pat Cipollone and others to talk about impeachment, McConnell went on Fox News Thursday night and said openly that the outcome of a Senate trial has pretty much been predetermined (the House is expected Friday to vote on articles of impeachment).

University of North Carolina Law Prof. Michael Gerhardt, who previously told the House Judiciary Committee “if what we are talking about is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable,” said Friday on CNN that the coordination that McConnell boasted of is without historical precedent.

CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked Gerhardt “how normal or abnormal is it for the Senate Majority Leader to work in, what he said, was lockstep, essentially, with the White House on a senate trial. Is that normal?”

“It is extremely unusual. We don’t have a lot of experience with presidential impeachments, but this is the first time in history when the president was coordinating with a big bloc of people from his own party in the Senate,” Gerhardt answered. “With Andrew Johnson, he wasn’t coordinating with anyone. No one liked Andrew Johnson. Bill Clinton was not coordinating with the Democrats. In fact, they kept a fair distance between themselves. Richard Nixon, his party was beginning to fragment at this point and, in fact, it was Barry Goldwater who said […] he’s not going to get through this without being convicted and removed. So, this is the first time we’ve seen this kind of coordination.”

CNN’s Jim Sciutto chimed in, “Well this is McConnell, I mean, he famously said he wanted to make Obama a one-term president, so for him to defend the Republican president in this way, perhaps not so surprising.”

McConnell said Thursday on Fox News’s Hannity that the Democrats’ case is “slim” and “weak.” He also said, “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”

“I’m going to coordinate with the president’s lawyers. So there won’t be any difference between us on how to do this,” McConnell said.

“We all know how this is going to end,” he added. “There’s no chance the president will be removed from office.”

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.