As the Senate impeachment trial gets underway, the first order of business by the House impeachment managers should be moving to disqualify any senator who appears to have violated their impeachment oath just sworn by way of their previous public comments.
While the Constitution requires that the Senate “be under oath or affirmation” when trying impeachments, the actual wording of the oath has been written by the Senate into its procedural rules that govern the conduct of the Senate. The juror’s oath is found in Rule XXV of the Senate Rules in Impeachment Trials. It reads: ”I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.” (Emphasis added)
The requirement of “impartial justice” includes evaluating the evidence, and deciding whether the proven misconduct justifies removal from office. It is beyond question that senators violate their oath if they have closed their minds to the evidence or made public, disparaging statements regarding the House impeachment or prejudicial comments indicating their minds have already been made up prior to the senate trial.
The following thirteen Republican senators have publicly made statements, on Twitter and to the media, that they are biased regarding the outcome of the impeachment trial. The comments should be considered as prejudicial and indicate the senator is unable to grant impartial justice. They are:
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell: “We’ll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time (be) in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president as well as the Senate.” McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, argued that senators cannot follow the House’s lead and agree that the president deserves to be impeached.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham: “I’m not pretending to be a fair juror.”
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn: “A sham, a Mueller do-over, an attempt to undo the 2016 election.”
West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito: “This is nothing but political theater.”
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton: “A sham impeachment.”
Montana Sen. Steve Daines: “Time to end this partisan, impeachment sham.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul: “This partisan abuse of power…put an end to the charade.”
Indiana Sen. Mike Braun: “There’s not one senator that would be seated as a juror in a regular trial because you bring that political predisposition point of view into it.”
North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven: Indicated the president did nothing wrong
Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe: “The president is not going to be removed from office—period.”
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson: “The articles of impeachment are so flawed from the House.”
Utah Sen. Mike Lee: “President Trump has done nothing wrong.”
Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran:“The facts as presented to the public don’t warrant removal of President Trump from office.”
In addition, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a resolution to change Senate rules to allow an immediate motion to dismiss the impeachment proceedings. On the House floor in her speech before sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Speaker Pelosi said that summary dismissal by the Senate of the articles of impeachment would be a cover-up. For emphasis she repeated, “Dismissal is cover-up.” I believe she is correct. Our common sense tells us that to dismiss the proceedings before hearing any evidence in no way shape or form could be considered “impartial justice.”
Some senators co-sponsored Hawley’s resolution, clearly indicating their contempt for the impeachment process and an inability to deliver “impartial justice.” Of 10 co-sponsors, five have already been listed above as making statements against their impartiality: Braun, Blackburn, Daines, Cotton and Inhofe.
Five additional co-sponsors of his dismissal resolution included Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Georgia Sen. David Purdue.
The total number of Republican senators who should be disqualified is 19. This becomes important because if they were to be disqualified, the two-thirds threshold necessary for conviction and removal of the president is reduced considerably from the required 67 votes to 55. There are 47 Democratic members of the Senate. Assuming the Democrats all voted to convict, only eight Republican senators would be needed to support conviction. That’s a far cry from the 20 Republican senators needed for the two-thirds vote if all 53 Republicans were eligible to participate along with the 47 Democrats being present and voting.
It appears that keeping American democracy and the way of life we have as Americans, hinges on the actions of eight fellow Americans who, as senators, have sworn an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” The Constitution they have sworn to uphold requires them, when sitting for impeachment, to take an oath written by the Senate itself to exercise “impartial justice.” Will they?
Tom Coleman represented Missouri as a Republican in the United States House from 1976-1993. He has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and at American University in Washington, D.C.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.