Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday that senators who have declared their positions on President Donald Trump’s impeachment have “gone too far.”
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Senate minority whip noted that all senators have a constitutional obligation to serve as impartial jurors.
“When it comes to saying, I made up my mind, it's all over, for goodness' sakes, that is not what the Constitution envisioned,“ Durbin told host Dana Bash. “Alexander Hamilton said, we give this job to the Senate because they are — quote — ‘independent and dignified.‘ For goodness' sakes, let's do our best to meet those standards.”
Durbin was challenging statements by senators indicating how they will vote on Trump’s guilt or innocence. These statements have been made both by leading Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Democratic presidential candidates now serving in the Senate, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
“I think they have gone too far,“ he said, adding: “You can’t do that. They shouldn’t have done that.”
He cited his experience in serving as a juror for President Bill Clinton in 1999 in discussing how he viewed his role as a juror.
“I'm going to take an oath of office when it comes to this impeachment on the floor of the Senate, as I did 20, 21 years ago with President Clinton's impeachment. And in that, I promise impartial justice, so help me God. And I want to stick by that. I basically want to hear the evidence, read the documents, make a decision that's right for America,” he said.
He also cited the Clinton precedent when defending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to hold up sending the two articles of impeachment to the Senate while waiting for rules to be established for the Senate’s trial. Democrats, among other things, wish to call witnesses.
“I think it's a fair question from Speaker Pelosi as to whether or not there will be any evidence offered. And that's what she's asked for,” he said, adding that he hoped Republicans would put partisanship aside in seeking the truth.
“The Constitution is very clear that we have an awesome responsibility. And let's live up to it on a bipartisan basis,“ Durbin said.