With a vote on impeachment looming in the House, Donald Trump is looking ahead to a potential Senate trial. In a report by The New York Times, a source “involved in the planning” of the President’s defense said that top White House counsel Pat A. Cipollone may not actually get the nod to represent the Commander in Chief. Trump has been quizzing a circle of trusted associates, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for names of other lawyers. Trump’s unease with Cipollone stems, according to the Times, from his lack of experience on television.
Cipollone assumed his role as White House counsel on December 10, 2018 after several months as an informal advisor. The 53-year-old was previously working as a litigation attorney in Washington D.C., though had previous experience in President George H.W. Bush’s Department of Justice under under Attorney General William Barr. He is also known for being one of the founders of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
Those credentials may not be enough for Mr. Trump, star of 14 seasons of The Apprentice.
Trump’s concerns were reported by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who notes that the President wishes for a prolonged process that would allow for a “theatrical defense.” Though McConnell is resistant to the idea and suggests a “shorter, more dignified event,” he has been meeting privately with White House officials as they devise their strategy.
Democratic leader Charles Schumer released a statement that “every single senator will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice,’” a likely reference to McConnell’s proximity to the defense. Val B. Demings, Democratic Representative from Florida, called for McConnell to recuse himself.
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