WASHINGTON -- A Florida congresswoman who on Wednesday became an impeachment manager in President Donald Trump's upcoming Senate trial wants to remove the lead juror: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Rep Val Demings' position, shared publicly by a just a few other Democrats, could undercut House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's efforts to frame impeachment as an exercise of constitutional duty. Republicans have argued for months that Democrats are on a partisan mission to remove Trump from office.
Yet in selecting Demings on Wednesday as one of the seven impeachment managers, Pelosi is giving a national spotlight to a Democrat who has often gone against House leaders on impeachment issues -- she first called for Trump's removal from office a year before party leadership and is now agitating for McConnell's recusal.
Her opposition to McConnell's participation in the Senate trial that is set to start next week stems from the Kentucky Republican boasting that he won't be impartial in deciding whether Trump should be acquitted or convicted.
"I'm not an impartial juror," McConnell said at a news conference in December. "This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision."
Demings on Dec. 13 declared McConnell unfit to vote in Trump's impeachment trial after the Senate leader went on Fox News to further detail his coordination with the White House on impeachment strategy.
"The moment Senator McConnell takes the oath of impartiality required by the Constitution, he will be in violation of that oath," she said at the time. "He has effectively promised to let President Trump manage his own impeachment trial. The Senator must withdraw."
Following the news conference announcing impeachment managers on Wednesday, when asked if she still holds that position, Demings told McClatchy, "I certainly do."
"I'm disappointed," she continued. "As I said before, the senators and we have been given a tremendous responsibility, as well as the president. For the Senate Majority Leader to publicly announce that he has no intentions on being impartial and, as a matter of fact, he's coordinating every step with the White House and there will be no difference between the White House and his views, is absolutely shameful. It's hard to take that one back and put that toothpaste back in the tube."
Nearly every House Democrat has harshly criticized McConnell for his political posture relating to impeachment, including Pelosi, who has said the majority leader has gone "rogue."