Many Republican senators, and even some leading Democrats, have offered the “I’m a juror” response to the media, dodging impeachment-related questions under the guise of guarding their impartiality. The top Republican of them all, however, was spotted on Thursday meeting with the White House lawyer executing President Donald Trump’s stonewall strategy.
As the House Judiciary Committee was doing its thing on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) caused a stir by meeting with White House counsel Pat Cipollone to talk about impeachment. Reporters, whether at the Washington Post or the Washington Examiner, made note of the high-profile meeting of the minds. Both Cipollone and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland walked into McConnell’s office; Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) was sitting on a couch in the lobby.
Photographic evidence, eyes emojis, and criticism soon followed.
Former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Elie Honig criticized the meeting.
“Imagine in a criminal trial if the lead defense attorney met in private with the judge or a juror (and McConnell will effectively be both in the Senate),” he said. “Yes, the Chief Justice will preside but, bet on it, McConnell will call the shots.”
It’s not the first time Cipollone has met with Senate Republicans as the impeachment process has unfolded, nor is it the first time that such a strategy meeting elicited a response.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), for one, said of that meeting,“They just wanted to help us get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they see it.”
“It was an opportunity for our members to ask questions and for some to offer comments,” he continued.
Ueland was present at both today’s and the previous meeting. The latter was a lunch, and Ueland was the one who reportedly did the talking.
Cipollone, in addition to being the White House lawyer penning letters decrying the House impeachment inquiry, was someone who knew concerns were raised about President Trump’s July 25 phone call.
On Thursday night, McConnell told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that there was “no chance the president will be removed from office.” He also spoke about coordinating with Cipollone.
Editor’s note: this story was updated after publication to note McConnell’s Thursday night remarks on Fox News.
[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]
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