Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that impeachment is a no-win proposition.
“I’ve been through impeachment. Nobody wins. Period. End of sentence. No party wins. The American people don’t win,” he told the audience at Wake Forest University, where he and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) were speaking.
“The bar for impeachment was extremely high. So I would only say to you, the test we’re going to have—and I think we’ll be presented with—does it reach the level of removal from office?”
Burr said he wasn’t “going to make a statement about what the outcome is because the likelihood is he and I are going to be jurors,” referring to Warner, the ranking member of the committee.
“Let me tell you what that means. It means the day we take it up, we go into sessions six days a week from 12:30 until 6:30 and can’t say anything. The House are the prosecutors, the president’s lawyers are the defense attorneys. They hash it out, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court comes in and he rules. We basically hear the case, and then we have to come to a verdict. That will probably be six or eight weeks’ process,” he said.
“And at the end of the day, will there be more than what the American people know today? I don’t know, maybe we will learn something as this goes public tomorrow but everything’s been public up ’till this point,” Burr continued. “And I would say the biggest distinction between the House and the Senate is we’ve gone for two-and-a-half years through a Russia investigation. And until you read our report you really don’t know what we’re going to say. That’s intentional.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also said this month he expects an impeachment trial but said, based on what is now public, he doesn’t think Trump would be convicted and removed from office.
“I will say, I’m pretty sure how it’s likely to end. If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question it would not lead to a removal,” McConnell told reporters.
“So the question is, how long does the Senate want to take. How long do the presidential candidates want to be here on the floor in the Senate instead of in Iowa or New Hampshire,” McConnell added, referring to Democratic presidential candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
“I’d be surprised if it didn’t end the way the two previous ones did, with the president not being removed from office,” he said.
The House can impeach a president with a majority vote. An impeachment trial is then held in the Senate, followed by a vote. Two-thirds of the senators present must vote to convict the president to remove him from office.
Republicans control the Senate with a 53-47 majority.