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

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators 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 CornynNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public 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 BluntDemocrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Trump team to present case for about two hours on Saturday GOP warns of 'drawn out' executive privilege battle over Bolton testimony  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 ErnstSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk Progressive group launches campaign targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment 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 GrassleyGraham vows Biden, Ukraine probe after impeachment trial Social security emerges as latest flash point in Biden-Sanders tussle Trump to sign USMCA next Wednesday 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.