Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it
© Greg Nash

As the Senate prepares to begin its impeachment trial, Democratic politicians and their allies in the press have pushed a narrative that the Senate must act as an “impartial jury.” They have blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump, GOP aim to complete reshaping of federal judiciary Supreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Harris on SCOTUS fight: Ginsburg's legacy 'at stake' MORE (R-Ky.) for saying he’s “not impartial” and continue to use the language of a jury to browbeat Republicans into passivity. But that narrative is flat-out false — impeachment was created by the Founders as a political exercise, and that’s never changed. 

After McConnell stated that he is “not an impartial juror,” Democrats in the media and the Senate lost their minds. Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' Biden refuses to say whether he would support expanding Supreme Court Schumer says Trump tweet shows court pick meant to kill off ObamaCare MORE (D-N.Y.) stated he was “utterly amazed” McConnell would say such a thing. He thinks that senators should simply sit back and listen to four witnesses, all Republican, be grilled by Democratic impeachment managers.

That’s rank hypocrisy. In 1999, during the Clinton impeachment trial, Schumer believed the opposite. He stated “we have a pre-opinion,” and that senators would carry their own positions into the trial — something a jury should never do. He also voted to dismiss the impeachment case and voted against witness subpoenas.

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Even the Chuck Schumer of 2019 contradicts his recent statements. He’s given numerous fiery speeches on the Senate floor blasting Trump on Ukraine — his mind is clearly made up. Other senators have made up their minds as well: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPresident Trump faces Herculean task in first debate The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Trump's tax return bombshell New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments MORE (I-Vt.) stated “Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in history, and he must be held accountable. I strongly believe the announcement of articles of impeachment are appropriate and necessary.” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's tax bombshell | More election drama in Pennsylvania | Trump makes up ground in new polls New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Democrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' MORE (D-Mass.) called for impeachment five months before the House began impeachment proceedings. Do those sound like impartial jurors?

Despite the mountain of evidence showing Democrats’ prejudice on impeachment, the media is only grilling Republicans on whether they’ll be “impartial.” Of course, they didn’t hold House Democrats or senators running for president to the same standard, alleging they were the prosecutors, not a jury. That’s nowhere in the Constitution.

As Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates Senate Republican says lawmakers can't 'boil down' what a Court nominee would do in one case like Roe v. Wade Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election MORE (R-Utah) pointed out, the Constitution explicitly says that jury trials are guaranteed for every trial except impeachment. The Founders also understood that impeachment was a thoroughly political process, for better or for worse — that’s why it happens in Congress, a politically accountable branch, not in the courts.

Even if impeachment were intended to be the solemn criminal trial the left says it is, the Democratic majority in the House has already tainted that process. Democrats have been trying to impeach the president for years — this was a pretext to try and smear the president in an election year. Then when they began impeachment, they failed to give the same rights to the minority that were given to the Democratic minority in the Clinton trial, exposing the partisan intent of the process.

I worked in the Senate for five years, and I know why the left is pushing this “impartial jury” narrative despite all the evidence to the contrary.

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They want Republican senators to act as passive observers, unquestioningly accepting the narrative and witness testimony the left presents. The left wants these senators to stay quiet in the Capitol and in the media instead of pushing back against a partisan impeachment process.

Instead of being intimidated into pretending to be bystanders, the Senate should do what it does best: deliberate. It should treat the articles of impeachment as it would any other important piece of legislation. Senators should present and weigh evidence and arguments, debate the merits of the case, and hold the rest of the Senate to account. They should actively seek the truth and fight to protect the 2016 election, the office of the presidency, and Congress’ legitimate role in impeachment. And they should remember their obligation to fight for their constituents’ interests.

Some senators recognize this already, including Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunSupreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink Trump plans to pick Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg on court Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (R-Ind.), who recently wrote: “If the Senate impeachment trial were a real court, all 100 senators would be removed as jurors for bias for or against the president.” All senators should be ready to combat the partisan impeachment articles and fight to find out the real truth — not just the story presented by the left’s impeachment managers.

Tim Chapman is Executive Director of Heritage Action for America.