Mitch McConnell Is 'In Literal Violation of the Oath' He Must Take for Impeachment Trial, Says Government Professor

After Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently confirmed that he will conduct President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial in full accordance with the White House's wishes, a government professor said the senator will be acting "in literal violation of the oath" he will be required to take at the start of the trial.

In recent days, McConnell indicated that he has held discussions with the White House to formulate an impeachment game plan to achieve a favorable outcome for Trump. "Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel," the senator told Fox News host Sean Hannity late last week. "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this." The Republican also revealed that he will be working in "total coordination with the White House counsel's office and the people representing the president in the well of the Senate."

McConnell's remarks have drawn fierce criticism from Democrats who have condemned him for failing to act impartially and openly gaming the process to ensure Trump's acquittal. In a recent op-ed written for The Bulwark, Jeffrey K. Tulis, a professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas, slammed McConnell's actions as "anti-Constitutional" and asserted that the senator will be "in literal violation" of the impeachment oath he will have to take before the trial begins.

Tulis explained that the impeachment trial in the Senate is so serious that senators will be required to make a new oath of office. He noted that Article I, section 3, clause 6 of the Constitution sets out that senators sitting on a trial of impeachment "shall be on Oath or Affirmation."

Although all senators must swear an oath to protect the Constitution when elected to Congress, the oath for an impeachment trial is different. "It is a juror's oath and a judge's oath—not a legislator's oath," Tulis wrote.

According to Rule XXV of the Senate Rules in Impeachment Trials, all senators must make the following oath: "I solemnly swear [or affirm, as the case may be] that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of [the person being impeached], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God."

Commenting on the clause, Tulis said "the Constitution asks them to remember that they are not sitting as senators, but now as judges and jurors."

"So much so that for this brief period the senators are all equal," the professor added. "For the duration of the trial the Senate is a literally new institution with new rules, new norms, and new responsibilities."

Newsweek reached out to McConnell for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Mitch McConnell
US President Donald Trump (R) looks on as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks during a rally at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on November 4, 2019. Mandel Ngan/Getty