News and Commentary

Republicans Discuss Using Senate Impeachment Hearing Against Democratic Candidates
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) addresses guests during a campaign stop at Broughton High School on November 7, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) broke from the “squad” to endorse Warren during the town hall rally. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

When the Democrats made their first steps toward going all in on impeachment, political analysts began pointing to a potential problem the process may pose for several Democratic presidential hopefuls: If impeachment makes it to the Senate, what does that mean for the six Democratic Senators vying for the nomination?

According to The Washington Post‘s sources, Republicans are well aware of the potential stumbling block an impeachment trial in the Senate could end up being for their Democratic peers contending for the 2020 nomination — and some are considering drawing out the proceeding to make sure the Democrats’ pay for their ill-advised impeachment campaign.

“Some Republican senators and their advisers are privately discussing whether to pressure GOP leaders to stage a lengthy impeachment trial beginning in January to scramble the Democratic presidential race — potentially keeping six contenders in Washington until the eve of the Iowa caucuses or longer,” the Post reports.

“Those conversations about the timing and framework for a trial remain fluid and closely held, according to more than a dozen participants in the discussions,” the paper reports. “But the deliberations come as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) faces pressure from conservative activists to swat back at Democrats as public impeachment hearings began this week in the House.”

The Post acknowledges that the “potential hazard” that the impeachment campaign poses to Democratic senators is very real, as the six Democratic senators still in contention have “previously planned on a final sprint out of Washington before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary.”

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson teased the press about the potential plot to make life hard on the Democrats. “That might be a strategy,” he said with “a coy smile.” “I’m just a lowly worker.”

Texas Sen. John Corynyn said the Senate would make sure to conduct the trial the “right” way, which would likely take five to six weeks. “Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden might like that,” he added, naming two of the leading candidates who are not senators.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said that while Bill Clinton’s trial took five weeks, he could see Trump’s going longer because he has denied any wrongdoing. While Clinton “admitted that he had lied to the FBI,” said Burr, as reported by the Post, “I figured it’s going to take longer for [the Democrats] to make a case, because they don’t have that.”

While the Post warns that Republicans may be scheming to hurt the Democratic senators, the outlet notes that some Republicans are pushing for a “swift dismissal or final vote.”

The six senators still in the mix are, in order of their poll numbers: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

Both Sanders and Warren have publicly weighed in on the potential trial, saying they will do their best to be there if and when it is necessary.