by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Democratic primary contenders stuck in Washington for the impeachment trial of President Trump denied frustration with being forced to stay off the campaign trail as the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses approach.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are expected to spend every day except Sundays on Capitol Hill as jurors during the trial. It’s an unwelcome development for candidates who have pinned their presidential aspirations on a strong finish in the crucial first nominating contest on the Democratic primary calendar.
In interviews Wednesday as they headed to the Senate floor for opening arguments, Klobuchar and Warren did not dispute that being forced off the campaign trail less than two weeks before Iowa could handicap their 2020 prospects. But each described it as their moral duty to adjudicate impeachment articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“This is my responsibility,” Warren said. “I took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, and that’s why I’m here. Some things are more important than politics.”
Trial rules require senators to be on the floor for several hours at a time, Monday through Saturday, and prohibit the use of smartphones and other electronics, regulations that limit opportunities to engage with voters on television or via social media.