Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed to quickly quash any impeachment charges if the House passes articles of impeachment against President Trump.
As Majority Leader, McConnell has broad authority to set the parameters of a trial and has created a firewall to protect Trump from the law. And while he is required to act on articles of impeachment, which require 67 votes to convict the president, Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber, and Vice President Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote if necessary.
But McConnell is not the only top Republican willing to break the rules to protect Donald Trump.
“I think it would be disposed of very quickly,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell’s leadership team, said “nothing” would come of impeachment articles passed by the House.
Given the Senate GOP firewall, Cornyn, who’s also a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he doubts that Democrats will commence the impeachment process.
Senate Republicans say that an impeachment trial would be given the bare minimum amount of floor time.
“Why on earth would we give a platform to something that I judge as a purely political exercise?” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), another member of the Judiciary Committee.
Tillis said he would support McConnell bringing the impeachment process to a quick close, and that any kind of extended trial would be “rewarding what I view as bad behavior on the part of the House.”
McConnell would have broad authority to determine how a Senate trial would play out. He could stifle the arguments of Democratic prosecutors from the House.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over a Senate trial, but he would be constrained by the rules and traditions of the Senate, where the majority leader sets the schedule and has the right of first recognition.