As President Donald Trump’s lawyers urged the Senate to dismiss what they are terming a “flimsy” impeachment case, Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are preparing to serve as jurors in the president’s trial.
At an event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, both senators said they will return to Washington ready to serve as impartial arbiters in what is only the third impeachment trial of a sitting president in the history of the republic.
“I wish I could stay here longer, but Senator Duckworth and I have jury duty this week,” Durbin said.
The crowd at the event applauded Durbin’s line, which leads to a question on the mind of many political observers: what role, if any, will public opinion play in the impeachment trial as Democrats hope to force a vote on whether witnesses will be allowed to offer testimony.
“I don’t see how you can have a fair trial without witnesses,” Duckworth said. As I’ve heard one of my colleagues say, ‘trials have witnesses, coverups don’t.’”
Durbin believes that at least four of his Republican colleagues in the Senate will side with Democrats in pushing for witnesses during President Trump’s impeachment trial.
“I really do believe four Republicans or more will step up at one point and say if it’s going to be a real trial, it has to have evidence, witnesses and documents.”
President Trump’s attorneys filed a brief contesting the articles of impeachment, calling them “fatally flawed, brazen and unlawful.”
“I think that the conduct does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense,” attorney Alan Dershowitz, one of the president’s attorneys, said.
Opening arguments for the trial will begin Tuesday. President Trump will not be in attendance, as he’s heading to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, but Duckworth and Durbin both say they will be impartial jurors as they hear the evidence for and against the president.
“I’m going to be a juror, the way I’m supposed to be, per the Constitution,” Duckworth said.