Republican ‘disturbed’ by Trump trial comment
A Republican senator has said she was “disturbed” to hear her party leader say there would be “total co-ordination” with the White House during Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Alaska lawmaker Lisa Murkowski made the comment after Mitch McConnell, majority leader of the Republican-led Senate, said he was working in “total coordination” with the White House on the upcoming trial earlier this month.
Ms Murkowski told NBC news affiliate KTUU-TV: “To me it means that we have to take that step back from being hand-in-glove with the defence.
“I heard what leader McConnell had said. I happened to think that has further confused the process.”
The moderate Republican, who remains undecided in how she will vote in the upcoming impeachment proceedings, said there needs to be distance between the White House and the Senate on how the trial should be conducted.
The US president was impeached last week by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on two charges over his pressuring of Ukraine to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, one of the top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Mr Biden’s son.
He has also been charged with abuse of power and obstructing Congress’ investigation.
Mr Trump, only the third president in US history to be impeached, has insisted he did nothing wrong.
Republicans have a 53-seat majority in the Senate, where 51 votes are needed to pass a set of rules for the Trump trial.
The actual impeachment trial in the Senate would need a two-thirds majority vote for a conviction.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate, a bid to pressure Senate Republicans to reach an accord with the Democrats in the chamber on trial rules.
Mr McConnell said the Senate could not take any action until it receives the articles.
One of the main sticking points between the Democrats and the Republicans in drafting rules for the impeachment proceedings is the question of whether or not to call witnesses.
On Monday Mr McConnell said Republicans had not ruled out hearing witnesses in the impeachment trial of the Republican president.
However he made clear he would not accede to a Democratic request for the Senate to agree ahead of time to take testimony during the trial.
There is little chance Mr Trump will be convicted and removed from office through a trial in the Republican-led Senate, but the impeachment proceedings could resonate at the ballot box in November.
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Additional reporting by Reuters
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