Senator Lindsey Graham put it crisply. “This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly,” he said. “I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking to Fox News, was even more explicit. “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can,” he said. “We have no choice but to take [the impeachment trial] up, but we will be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president in the well of the Senate.”
The two senators appear to need a brief remedial course on their constitutional obligations. Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 of the Constitution declares that “the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.” And when the Senate is sitting “for that Purpose, [senators] shall be on Oath or Affirmation.”
The requirement of a special oath for senators sitting as impeachment triers of fact is unique in the document. Senators don’t swear a special oath to engage in the appropriations process or to consider judicial nominations or to propose health-care legislation. They don’t even swear a special oath to consider a declaration of war or an authorization to use military force. But they do when the Senate sits as the trial forum for impeachment, at which point it becomes a non-legislative tribunal with a wholly different institutional purpose and face.