Sen. Johnson: It’s ‘obvious’ Senate will acquit Trump

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc) on stage
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons 2.0) .CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

WASHINGTON — Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson doesn’t mind that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said there’s no chance that the Senate will vote to remove President Donald Trump from office. 

“Isn’t that just kind of an obvious statement? I don’t mind people stating the obvious,” Johnson told the Examiner Tuesday during a brief interview on Capitol Hill. 

McConnell last week said during a Fox News interview that there was “zero chance” that the GOP-led Senate would remove Trump from office. He also pledged “total coordination” with the White House and with Trump’s lawyers. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Saturday that his mind was “made up” and he was not trying to “pretend to be a fair juror here.” 

The GOP comments have enraged many Democrats, who have accused their Republican colleagues of predetermining the outcome of the Senate trial before carefully considering the arguments against the president. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on CNN Monday that for McConnell to “talk to the president is one thing. For him to say, ‘I’m going to do just what the president wants,’ is totally out of line.’” 

The Senate is expected to begin its trial in January after the likely House vote this week to impeach Trump on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress. The charges involve allegations that the president improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Trump’s political rival ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. 

‘This is a political process’ 

Johnson, who has been an ardent supporter of Trump, defended Senate Republicans’ comments about supporting the president and coordinating with the White House as the likely trial approaches. 

“This is not an Article Three type criminal trial,” he said, referring to the section of the Constitution that establishes the federal judiciary. 

“This is a political process, obviously, so from my standpoint, I think we need to offer the president every opportunity to put on the kind of case he wants to put on.” 

White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone rejected the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s invitation to participate in that panel’s impeachment proceedings. 

Cipollone said in a letter that the House inquiry “is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness.” 

Trump wrote on Twitter earlier this month, “[I]f you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair … trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.” 

‘Nothing impeachable there at all’ 

Johnson suggested Tuesday he’ll vote against removing Trump from office after a Senate trial. 

Asked whether anything could sway him at this point, he said, “Not based on what the House is doing, no. There’s nothing impeachable there at all. It’s unfortunate.” 

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said on CNN Monday that it’s “horrifying” that other lawmakers have suggested they won’t deliver “impartial justice” during the Senate trial. 

“The bottom line remains that the White House itself released a phone log where the president solicited aid from a foreign country to his own personal and political gain and held in exchange congressionally approved funding,” Baldwin said. “And that is certainly something that we should hear the entire story on, and nobody is above the law.” 

Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.