McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play House Democrats to vote on flavored e-cigarettes ban next year MORE (R-Ky.) says he will be paying attention to the Senate's business Wednesday instead of the first day of the House's public impeachment hearings.

McConnell is one of several Republican senators who said Tuesday that they don’t plan to watch the House's impeachment proceedings when they are televised this week.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to be paying attention to what we’re doing in the Senate,” McConnell said when asked if he would watch any of this week’s scheduled impeachment hearings.

Other members of Senate GOP leadership said they would tune out this week’s House hearings and would only pay attention to the arguments of House prosecutors after the House passes articles of impeachment, if the lower chamber in fact goes that far.

“I’ve got other things to do,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLive coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill Hillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell.

“I think it’s a political sideshow, and I’ve got more important things to do,” he said, indicating he would wait until the matter comes to the Senate before giving it his attention. “The House has its job to do, and then when it comes to us, that’s when our job kicks in.”

Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Senate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans MORE (R-Mo.) said, “I don’t see any time in my schedule that I would be likely to watch any of it tomorrow.”

The House Intelligence Committee will hold its first public impeachment hearing Wednesday when it is scheduled to hear testimony from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

The hearing will draw intense media coverage, but Republican senators, who would ultimately try any articles of impeachment passed by the House, are not eager to watch any developments as they happen.

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Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstDemocrats spend big to put Senate in play Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements MORE (R-Iowa) said she plans to catch up on tomorrow’s developments in the evening but explained, “I have committee meetings that I’ll be engaged in” while the House hearings are going on.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Horowitz did not find evidence Obama asked for probe of Trump Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Iowa), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “I don’t have time to watch that tomorrow.”

An aide to Grassley pointed out that the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet at the same time as the House proceedings.

Grassley said it would be “worth it” to pay attention when Democrats “decide to give due process to [the] minority party the same way we did when Clinton and Nixon were involved,” referring to the 1973-1974 and 1998-1999 impeachment efforts.

Senate Republicans have argued the House impeachment investigation is unfair because it doesn’t give Republican lawmakers enough power to call competing witnesses or the president’s defense team enough opportunity to cross-examine officials who testify.