Murkowski, Democrats forget that Senate Democrats worked with Clinton’s White House during his impeachment trial.
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has once again broken ranks with Senate leadership. This time it’s over the strategy for the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.
Murkowski told KTUU that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments about working with the White House during the trial “disturbed” her while criticizing how the House handled the impeachment vote:
“And in fairness, when I heard that I was disturbed,” Murkowski said before describing that there should be distance between the White House and the Senate in how the trial is conducted. “To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process.”
Murkowski was critical of the impeachment process conducted in the House of Representatives that she describes as rushed. “Speaker Pelosi was very clear, very direct that her goal was to get this done before Christmas.”
Murkowski pointed out that if the House Democrats “truly believed that they had information that was going to be important, they subpoena them, and if they ignore the subpoena, as they did, at the direction of the White House, then that next step is to go to the courts.”
She insisted she will not make up her mind on she would vote in a full impeachment trial: “For me to prejudge and say there’s nothing there or on the other hand, he should be impeached yesterday, that’s wrong, in my view, that’s wrong.”
The GOP has 53 seats in the Senate, but McConnell’s strategy could face challenges due to moderate Republicans like Murkowski, Sen. Susan Collins, and Sen. Mitt Romney.
Murkowski and Democrats seem to forget that in 1998 the Democrats in the Senate worked with President Bill Clinton’s White House:
According to then-Washington Post reporter Peter Baker’s book, “The Breach: Inside the Impeachment and Trial of William Jefferson Clinton,” Senate Democrats coordinated with the White House on a number of impeachment-related issues behind the scenes.
According to Baker, one of those arrangements involved White House Counsel Charles Ruff arranging a “secret signal” with Democratic leadership. If Ruff wanted to rebut anything from the Republican House managers, something rules didn’t allow for, he pre-arranged with then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle’s aides for a senator to submit a question to then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist asking the White House to respond.
Aides reportedly would “fill in the name” of one of several “default senators” — such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and then-Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. — who had agreed to allow themselves to “be used in this way.”
The book also detailed how then-Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, spoke with Clinton and helped organize a pressure campaign in defeating Sen. Susan Collins’, R-Maine., attempt to adopt “findings of fact” by which the Senate could take a majority vote on whether Clinton lied under oath and impeded discovery of evidence even if the chamber failed to convict him. Baker described how Clinton “tracked down Harkin in the Democratic cloakroom during a break in the trial to vent his outrage” at what Collins was cooking up.
“Harkin needed no convincing,” Baker wrote. “He had immediately recognized the pernicious effects of the findings plan and set about trying to destroy it before it got too far.”
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