Kelly reserving judgment on impeachment until after Senate trial

By: - December 20, 2019 11:54 am

Mark Kelly speaking with supporters at the Phoenix launch of his U.S. Senate campaign at The Van Buren in Phoenix on Feb. 24, 2019. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Kelly isn’t taking a position yet on whether President Donald Trump should be removed from office, saying he’ll wait for the upcoming Senate trial before making a decision.

For now, Kelly is focusing on the process and questioning the way Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to carry out the Senate trial.

“I’ve said from the beginning that the president’s conduct should be investigated and if I were in the Senate today, my focus would be on ensuring a fair trial so that we could examine all of the evidence and hear from all relevant witnesses,” Kelly said in a statement issued by the campaign. “The facts, not politics, should guide our decisions here, and I’m concerned Mitch McConnell has made it clear he has no intention of being an impartial juror, and that too many are taking their cues from him instead of the rule of law.”

McConnell has said he won’t allow witnesses to be called in the Senate trial and has rejected the notion that his role as that of an impartial juror.

The Kelly campaign didn’t issue a press statement or comment on social media following the U.S. House of Representatives’ historic vote to impeach Trump on counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Kelly’s only public statements of the day criticized a federal appellate court’s ruling that struck down the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.

Kelly’s campaign had a prepared statement that it provided to media outlets that inquired about his stance on impeachment.

The Arizona Republican Party on Thursday accused Kelly of hiding from tough questions.

“Are we to honestly believe that Mark Kelly doesn’t have an opinion on impeachment? That would either make him the least engaged or least informed political candidate in America. More likely, though, he’s just worried to show his true leftist stripes because he knows Arizonans of all backgrounds oppose this hyperpartisan charade,” AZGOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward said in a press statement.

Kelly isn’t alone in taking a wait-and-see attitude. Both of Arizona’s sitting senators have been circumspect as well.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has taken a similar position and said she isn’t rushing to judgment. Some observers speculate that Sinema, a moderate Democrat who wears her centrist voting record as a badge of honor, could be one of the few Democrats to vote against Trump’s removal in the Senate.

“Following the votes in the U.S. House, Senators have a Constitutional duty to treat this process with the gravity and impartiality that our oaths demand. I will uphold that responsibility, free of partisan politics, regardless of the attitudes displayed by some elected officials in both parties,” Sinema said in a statement issued by her office.

Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, whom Kelly hopes to unseat in November, has also long been reticent to take a position on Trump’s removal. In recent days, McSally, who has been a staunch supporter of the president over the past couple years, has taken a public position against removal.

At a recent event with the Legislative District 11 GOP in southern Arizona, McSally said she’s unconvinced that Trump should be removed from office and that it’s congressional Democrats, not the president, who have abused their power through the impeachment process, according to a recording of the event obtained by The Associated Press. 

Her campaign manager, Dylan Lefler, later told the AP that McSally “takes her role as a juror seriously but hasn’t heard anything so far that would lead her to believe impeachment of the president is warranted, let alone removing him from office.”

What effect Kelly and McSally’s positions on impeachment will have on their race, which 

is expected to be one of the most high-profile Senate campaigns of the 2020 cycle, remains to be seen. A recent poll by the Republican consulting firm Data Orbital showed a plurality of Arizonans support impeaching Trump, but a majority oppose removing him from office.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”