As the final preparations for a vote by the full House on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump remain underway this week, attention is turning to the impeachment trial likely to soon ensue. This week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke out publicly about Democrats’ plans for that impeachment trial and indicated that they’re prepared to procedurally force votes on calling specific witnesses and demanding specific evidence. Previously, Schumer has established that he’s after witnesses who the House subpoenaed but refused to appear, including White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, and others.
This week, he explained:
‘Conducting an impeachment trial in the Senate is an enormously solemn responsibility. It’s one of the most important things that the Founding Fathers arrogated to the Senate. Senate Democrats believe strongly that the trial must be fair, and it’s very important that the American people judge it to be fair. A fair trial is one where Senators get all the facts and one that allows them to adjudicate the case impartially.’
In a rebuttal to Republican complaints that he delivered on the Senate floor, he added:
‘We will have votes on whether these people should testify, and whether these documents should be made public as part of the trial, and the American people will be watching. They will be watching. Who is for an open and fair trial?.. Each individual senator will have both the power and the responsibility to help shape what an impeachment trial looks like.’
Although there are a handful of (four, to be exact) GOP Senators perceived as vulnerable to losing re-election battles in 2020, there’s little public, concrete indication that any of them are actually prepared to break with the prominent Republican strategy of obstruction.
Although the president has been quick to complain about the process of the impeachment proceedings, he has largely refused to engage with that process. He has issued blanket demands for officials in his administration to refuse to comply with Congressional subpoenas, although some have testified to Congress anyway. In so doing, those officials — like E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland and the National Security Council’s Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — have helped Democrats build their case against the president.
Republicans are still resisting anyway. In a floor speech this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted that the Senate should not call new witnesses because — in his words — that would turn the trial into a “fishing expedition” that would set a “nightmarish precedent” for the Senate. In other words, the Republican strategy seems to be to refuse to comply with subpoenas and then complain about Democrats seeking compliance. Just to be clear, McConnell has already publicly asserted that he’ll be coordinating his impeachment trial strategy with the White House, and despite this revelation, he’s still apparently hoping to come across as fair and upstanding in his handling of the impeachment trial.
Trump is responding well to GOP tactics — recently, he melodramatically tweeted about “Republican warriors,” but all they’re doing is publicly floundering.