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Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith Joins Sen. Lindsey Graham, Vowing ‘Rigged’ Senate Trial to Protect Trump

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (left) poses with his friend and fellow Republican, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. Photo via Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith's re-election campaign.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith will have a front-row seat as a juror in Donald J. Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, but the Mississippi Republican said she has already decided to stand by her party’s president no matter what.

“This sham will come to a swift end in the U.S. Senate. I will stand up for our president & against this shameful process,” Hyde-Smith tweeted on Friday.

Mississippi’s junior senator, who made pleasing Trump her top campaign talking point in 2018, joins other Republicans who will serve as jurors in the trial by vowing to protect him.

‘I’m Not Trying to Be a Fair Juror Here’

On Saturday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and friend of Hyde-Smith’s, told CNN that he, too, has already decided to vote to acquit Trump despite the fact that the trial has not even yet been scheduled.

“I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to be a fair juror here,” said Graham.

During Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, Graham sang a different tune, criticizing Democrats who said they would not vote to impeach that Democratic president.

“Members of the Senate have said, ‘…I won’t vote to impeach,'” Graham said in a floor speech back then. “People have made up their mind in a political fashion that will hurt the country long term.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is in charge of arranging Trump’s trial in the Senate, told Fox News late last week that he is working with the president’s lawyers to ensure a speedy trial and quick acquittal.

“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel,” McConnell told Fox News. “There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”

But when the trial begins, Hyde-Smith, McConnell, and Graham will have to swear the following oath: “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.” 

On MSNBC, political scientist Norm Ornstein said McConnell’s comments amounted to an admission of a “rigged jury.”

“To basically admit before you start the trial that it’s rigged is just quite astonishing,” Ornstein said.

During impeachment hearings, witnesses who work in the Trump administration offered more than 100 hours of testimony to panels of Republicans and Democrats.

Their testimony, along with documents uncovered in Congress’ investigation, confirmed that Trump withheld congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine, and told that country’s president that the U.S. would only release the money if Ukraine agreed to announce a sham investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

This weekend, though, Sen. Lindsey Graham doubled down in another television appearance.

“I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations and process. So I don’t need any witnesses,” the senator from South Carolina said on Face the Nation.

Hyde-Smith Lies About Impeachment Vote

After the Democratic-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted to send articles of impeachment to the full House on Friday morning, Hyde-Smith called it a “sham.”

“This morning the Democrats voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against President Trump, & it took less than FIFTEEN MINUTES,” tweeted Hyde-Smith, who as a senator is duty-bound to serve as a juror in the Senate trial that would follow an impeachment by the full House of Representatives.

That tweet amounted to a disingenuous show of political acrobatics. Democrats had planned to hold a vote on articles of impeachment on Thursday after hours of debate—until Republicans used procedural stalling tactics to push debate into the late evening.

Republicans had hoped that those tactics would result in a midnight impeachment vote. If that had happened, Republican members of Congress had planned to spend Friday expressing outrage that Democrats “voted to impeach in the dead of night” or “under cover of darkness” when most Americans were asleep—as the GOP did in 2010 after a Democratic Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in a late-night vote.

Instead, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler adjourned at the end of debate last night without a vote, pushing it to Friday morning instead. Since debate finished last night, the vote took place quickly this morning, with all 23 Democrats voting to move the articles of impeachment forward and all 17 Republicans voting against.

The full House plans to vote on articles of impeachment sometime this week.

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