Republican U.S. senators met with Donald Trump‘s impeachment lawyers on Thursday, despite their role as jurors in the trial to convict or acquit the disgraced former U.S. president.
The reportedly 70-minute-long meeting took place a day before the impeachment defense team is set to present their case before the 100 U.S. senators who have been sworn in to serve as jurors determining Trump’s fate.
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The group of senators, which reportedly included Sens. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, held a private meeting with Trump’s legal team around 4:30 p.m. — before House impeachment managers rested their prosecutorial case against Trump.
White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor tweeted that Trump lawyer David Schoen claimed the meeting was about “procedure.” Cruz reportedly said that senators were talking about the legal “strategy for tomorrow.”
Reporters were waiting right outside the door of the meeting as Graham walked out. When asked questions about the meeting, Graham simply said, “See you tomorrow,” reported Washington Post journalist JM Rieger.
Read More: Trump’s defense to present case in impeachment trial they’ve likely already won
The conduct of Graham, Cruz and Lee quickly drew criticisms and questions around its ethics, as they reportedly talked “strategy” with the very lawyers who will be asking them on the Senate floor on Friday to not convict Trump. While the Republican lawmakers have not been shy about their loyal support for Donald Trump, their seemingly break from impartiality raises eyebrows.
House impeachment managers ended their two-day prosecutorial case against Trump, framing him as a corrupt leader who used the power of the presidency and voter fraud lies to rile up his most extreme supporters to wreak havoc and violence at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, where lawmakers gathered to certify the Electoral College vote that declared Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
Despite publicly and privately commending Democrats’ impeachment performance, Senate Republicans are still expected to acquit Trump of the one article of impeachment charged against him.
It is believed that Republicans are unwilling to jeopardize their Senate seats by going against Trump who they believe still holds rank and power within their party and electorate. On Monday, only 6 Republicans voted in agreement that the impeachment trial was constitutional.
If convicted, Trump could be barred from running for reelection in 2024.
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