Sanders says he's concerned about lost campaign time during impeachment trial

Sanders says he's concerned about lost campaign time during impeachment trial

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters MORE (I-Vt.), who is atop polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, said Thursday he is worried about losing valuable time on the campaign trail while he sits through an impeachment trial that could last for weeks.

The Senate spent much of Thursday in a ceremonial session to mark the beginning of President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE's trial, which included all senators present taking an oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to uphold impartial justice. Senators then signed an oath book one by one.

Asked later if he’s concerned about how participating in the trial will affect his White House bid, Sanders responded, “Yeah, I am.”

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“I would rather be in Iowa today. There’s a caucus there in 2 1/2 weeks. I’d rather be in New Hampshire and Nevada and so forth. But I swore a constitutional oath as a United States senator to do my job and I’m here to do my job,” he said.

The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 3. The New Hampshire primary is eight days later.

Sanders is one of four Democratic senators still running for president, along with Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Moore defends Sanders's reputation: 'We don't want the fake, and the phony and the fraudulent' MORE (Minn.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa MORE (Colo.).

Bennet has regularly attended Senate business in recent weeks, but the other candidates have been on the trail.

Despite being about 1,000 miles from the Hawkeye State, Sanders still hit on a couple of his favorite political themes at an impromptu press conference in the Capitol basement Thursday.

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“While we go forward with this impeachment trial, I hope the American people understand that we have not forgotten that in this country, outside of Washington, D.C., today, there are millions of people who are struggling economically, millions of people who cannot afford their prescription drugs or their health care,” he said.

“We’ve got to deal with this impeachment trial but we cannot forget the very serious problems facing the American people,” he added.

Sanders also called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Trump's team made case for new witnesses 'even stronger' Trump, Democrats risk unintended consequences with impeachment arguments CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE (R-Ky.) to allow new witnesses, such as former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonRomney: 'It's very likely I'll be in favor of witnesses' in Trump impeachment trial George Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump Democrats see Mulvaney as smoking gun witness at Trump trial MORE, to testify during the impeachment trial.

“When you have a trial, you hear from witnesses. And I hope McConnell will allow those witnesses to testify and give us their version of what happened,” Sanders said.

The Vermont senator missed about half of the Senate’s votes last year as he focused on his presidential campaign.