Mere days after swearing under oath to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws” as a juror in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Mississippi Republican, told supporters that she does not take the trial seriously and is actively “fighting it.”
“What (US House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi did in impeaching our president is no laughing matter, but even Democrats know it’s a joke,” Hyde-Smith tweeted to her followers on January 19. “Please RT this video and help me show why I am fighting the impeachment sham in the US Senate.”
Hyde-Smith attached a video clip of US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticizing Pelosi and other Democrats for impeaching Trump. McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, will oversee the trial in the Senate and will likely take steps to try to ameliorate the fallout for Trump.
‘So Help Me God’
On January 17, McConnell, Hyde-Smith, and other US senators signed the following sworn 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.”
Even before that though, Hyde-Smith signaled that she had no intention of taking the oath or the impeachment trial seriously. In December, the Mississippi senator vowed that, as a juror in the trial, she would stand by her party’s president no matter what. The US House voted to impeach Trump last month.
“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 at the time.
During impeachment hearings late last year, 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 US would only release the money if Ukraine agreed to announce a sham investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Last week, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow interviewed Lev Parnas, one of Trump’s alleged henchmen who said he was tasked with carrying out the pressure campaign in Ukraine. Parnas said the the allegations against Trump were true and that Trump and Republican backers’ claims that Trump was only investigating “corruption” in Ukraine were false. Parnas turned over thousands of pages of texts, emails, and other evidence corroborating the story over to the US House.
It is not clear whether or not the Senate will call Parnas as a witness. McConnell, who said previously that he is working with Trump’s team on the trial’s parameters, has suggested that he may prevent witnesses from being called to testify—or require that Joe and Hunter Biden also testify, even though they are not witnesses to the crimes Trump is accused of (and in fact, were partially the targets of those alleged crimes).
Mike Espy: Hyde-Smith Guilty of ‘Habitual Partisanship’
In the days before she swore her oath to do “impartial justice,” Hyde-Smith hinted at the idea.
“Sorry Democrats, you can’t handpick your witnesses this time,” she tweeted on January 15.
“It is truly discouraging that once again, Mississippi must suffer as her words and short-sightedness put our beloved state in a very bad light,” Espy wrote, likely alluding to a firestorm Hyde-Smith’s “public hanging” quip created last year. “… If you have a Senator who only blindly follows the party bosses in Washington, then does Mississippi really have a senator?”
Hyde-Smith has repeatedly taken Trump’s side since Governor Phil Bryant appointed her to a vacant US Senate seat in 2018. That year, she used her first speech as a member of the upper chamber to defend now-US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee at the time whose confirmation in the Senate struggled amidst sexual assault allegations.
“Today, I was compelled by my duty to our country, the people of Mississippi, and as the first woman to represent our great state in Congress to speak in strong support of Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” Hyde-Smith tweeted at the time, saying that while her heart “breaks for victims of assault and abuse,” she considered the accusations against Trump’s nominee “unjust.”
In her speech, the senator said that while her heart “breaks for victims of assault and abuse,” she considered the accusations “unjust.”
Espy, who was also one of Hyde-Smith’s 2018 opponents, said then that he considered the allegations “credible” and called for a thorough investigation before Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote. McConnell, though, rushed an incomplete investigation and successfully confirmed Kavanaugh on a mostly party-line vote.
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