Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-VT) said he rather be on the campaign trial than stuck in Washington D.C. for President Trump’s impeachment trial that could last for weeks.
“I’d rather be in Iowa today. There’s a caucus there in two and a half weeks. I’d rather be in New Hampshire and Nevada and so forth,” Sanders told reporters Thursday after being sworn in to serve as an impeachment juror. “But I swore a constitutional oath as a United States senator to do my job, and I’m here to do my job.”
Sanders pointed out that the impeachment trial shouldn’t distract them from other matters Americans are facing.
“While we go forward with this impeachment trial, I hope the American people understand that we have not forgotten that in this country, outside of Washington, D.C., today, there are millions of people who are struggling economically, millions of people who cannot afford their prescription drugs or their health care,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to deal with this impeachment trial but we cannot forget the very serious problems facing the American people.”
He also called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow new witnesses to testify during the impeachment trial.
“When you have a trial, you hear from witnesses. And I hope McConnell will allow those witnesses to testify and give us their version of what happened,” Sanders said.
The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 3. The New Hampshire primary is eight days later, followed by the Nevada Democratic caucuses on February 22. In between the primary races, there are three scheduled debates as well.
Sanders is one of four Democratic senators, along with Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Michael Bennet of Colorado who will have to take time off the campaign trail for the trial. While the Senators will be partaking as jurors in the impeachment trial, they will be restricted and won’t be able to use their cellphones or other electronic devices.
Instead of face-to-face campaigning in Iowa, the four senators will have to lean heavily on campaign staff, surrogates, and host live-stream video town hall events. Sanders plans to to leverage his social media following by hosting live-stream events and dispatch top surrogates such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on the campaign trail.
Warren was asked about the scheduling conflict during this week’s Iowa debate.
“That impeachment trial is going to show once again to the American people, and something we should all be talking about, is the corruption of this administration. That is what lies at heart of it. It is about Donald Trump putting Donald Trump first. Not the American people. Not the interests of the United States of America,” Warren said.
It’s not clear when the trial will end. White House aides hope it will end by the State of Union address on February 4. But top Senate Republicans anticipate it will extend past then, running into the New Hampshire primary and maybe even beyond if the Senate decides to vote on calling new witnesses.