Now that Congress has returned from its holiday break, attention has again turned to developing a Senate trial for President Donald Trump following his pre-Christmas impeachment by the House. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Republicans have been dramatically resisting basic measures of fairness like calling witnesses and evidence for a trial, but this week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that he’ll force votes on calling witnesses anyway. That will make Republican Senators go on record as either in support of or against basic fairness.
Democrats want to call witnesses like White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, the latter of whom abruptly announced recently that he will testify if subpoenaed by the Senate. (He’d previously resisted testifying, but the House investigation moved on without him.)
‘Make no mistake, on the question of witnesses and documents, Republicans may run but they can’t hide. There will be votes at the beginning on whether to call the four witnesses we’ve proposed and subpoena the documents we’ve identified. America and the eyes of history will be watching what my Republican colleagues do. If every Republican senator votes for a rigged trial that hides the truth, the American people will see that the Republican Senate is part of a large and awful cover-up.’
Some time ago, McConnell insisted that he’d be dealing with the impeachment trial in “total coordination” with the White House, and he’s simultaneously fiercely adopted the White House’s apparent aim of getting the case thrown out as quickly as possible. He’s mocked demands for witnesses as set to turn the trial into a “fishing expedition.” Now, he’s apparently preparing to propose a two-part trial, with an initial resolution outlining general rules and a second resolution covering calling witnesses and evidence only after opening arguments and questions from Senators. Those arguments will be handled by House impeachment case managers that have not yet been named. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she was waiting until Dem leaders could examine the trial parameters set by the Senate.
Noting that McConnell and “several Republican senators have suggested that each side complete their arguments and then we decide on witnesses,” Schumer insisted that “idea is as backwards as it sounds.” Separately, he’s insisted that if Trump “is ultimately acquitted at the end of a sham trial, his acquittal will be meaningless.” Nevertheless, McConnell appears to have the 51 votes lined up that he’d need to go with his plan. Perceived swing vote Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have both said that they support waiting to decide on witnesses until after opening arguments.
Trump is keeping up very public pressure on Republican Senators. On Monday, he tweeted:
‘Congress & the President should not be wasting their time and energy on a continuation of the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax when we have so many important matters pending. 196 to ZERO was the Republican House vote, & we got 3 Dems. This was not what the Founders had in mind!’
In response, Republicans are apparently ready to keep falling on line.
Congress & the President should not be wasting their time and energy on a continuation of the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax when we have so many important matters pending. 196 to ZERO was the Republican House vote, & we got 3 Dems. This was not what the Founders had in mind!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2020