Senate Republicans seem to be preparing to use Democrats’ demands for fairness at President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial against them. This Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged that during that trial, Republicans may seek to drag in witnesses like Hunter Biden, whose business work in Ukraine was a centerpiece of the dirt that Trump wanted Ukraine to try and conjure up. His attempt to bribe Ukraine into looking into these issues is itself at the center of Democrats’ case against him — and now, despite a persistent lack of evidence for his dramatic corruption claims, Republicans are seeking to jump in with the president.
McConnell told reporters:
‘We’ll be dealing with the witness issue at the appropriate time into the trial, and I think it’s certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses that they wanted to hear from. When you get to that issue, I can’t imagine that only the witnesses that our Democratic colleagues would want to call would be called.’
Previously, Trump ally Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had insisted that he would force a full Senate vote on subpoenaing Hunter Biden at some point. He tweeted:
‘My colleagues can’t have it both ways. Calling for some, while blocking others. If we are going to give a platform to witnesses the Dems demand, I look forward to forcing votes to call Hunter Biden and many more!’
My colleagues can’t have it both ways. Calling for some, while blocking others. If we are going to give a platform to witnesses the Dems demand, I look forward to forcing votes to call Hunter Biden and many more! https://t.co/hrOzVyiG9x
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 14, 2020
Even that tweet itself is self-defeating. Paul claims that Democrats have some agenda to block presumably legitimate witness requests from Republicans — but then he reveals right there that his own actual agenda is some kind of desperate political free-for-all where he calls “many more” witnesses besides Hunter Biden. Who’s next? Maybe they could subpoena Hillary Clinton! It’s been about five minutes since one of them complained about her after all.
Despite clamoring over the possibility of the Senate simply completely dismissing the case without even hearing arguments, let alone witnesses, McConnell said this Tuesday that the GOP caucus is ready to proceed with the trial itself. Of course, they have that apparent ulterior motive of dragging out pointless witnesses. McConnell himself had signed onto a resolution to completely dismiss the impeachment case if the House didn’t send it over within a little more than three weeks, but now, he says:
‘There is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss… Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.’
A vote on whether or not to hear from witnesses seems likely to come after the opening arguments portion. Witnesses have been heard from in every single impeachment trial that the Senate has ever held, but McConnell has also previously derided the idea of calling any. He claimed that doing so would turn the trial into a “fishing expedition.” Besides Hunter Biden, some of his Republican colleagues have suggested calling witnesses like House Democratic leaders themselves, an idea which President Trump himself has expressed public support for on Twitter.