- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2019

They may not agree on much, but President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have found common ground on the looming impeachment trial: They both want the Senate to call witnesses.

But their witness lists look dramatically different.

Mr. Trump wants senators to call former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and to explore all the avenues House Democrats ignored as they rushed toward impeachment, including the whistleblower who launched the whole matter.

SEE ALSO: Read the House Judiciary Committee report

Mr. Schumer, in plans he revealed Sunday evening, doesn’t mention Mr. Biden or the whistleblower. Instead, he said the Senate must hear from four top current or former White House officials — including John R. Bolton and Mick Mulvaney — who he said have direct knowledge of the president’s actions, but whom the president ordered not to testify in House hearings.

Mr. Bolton, who was Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, was critical of the administration’s request of Ukraine, and Mr. Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff at the White House, acknowledged that military aid to the country was being held.

Democrats also want to hear from Robert Blair, a top Mulvaney aide, and Michael Duffey, a budget official who was tasked with handling the Ukraine issue.

SEE ALSO: Adam Schiff insists impeachment ‘isn’t a failure’ despite lack of GOP support

In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, Mr. Schumer said they should try to adopt the same rules used during the 1999 impeachment trial of President Clinton.

“The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people,” he said in his letter. “That is the great challenge for the Senate in the coming weeks.”

Mr. Schumer called for a speedy start to the trial, with rules to be adopted on Jan. 6. Senators would be sworn in as jurors the next day, and the House would be called to present its case for impeachment on Jan. 9.

He said the House should be given 24 hours, and the president’s team would get 24 hours to make its rebuttal.

“In the trial of President Clinton, the House Managers were permitted to call witnesses, and it is clear that the Senate should hear the testimony of witnesses in this trial as well,” Mr. Schumer wrote.

Ironically, Mr. Schumer voted against that proposal in the 1999 trial of Mr. Clinton. At the time, Democrats complained that calling witnesses was political theater.

In that round, Senate Republicans, who were in the majority then as now, voted to allow witnesses.

They have been leaning against witnesses this time and prefer a short trial in which both sides argue from the evidence presented in the House impeachment inquiry. Senators then would move to the discussion and a vote.

But Republicans now say Mr. Trump should get what he wants.

“If the president wants to call witnesses, if the president wants to call Hunter Biden or wants to call the whistleblower, the Senate should allow the president to do so,” Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mr. McConnell has said he is coordinating his strategy with the White House.

“There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this,” the Kentucky Republican told Fox News host Sean Hannity last week.

“This case is so darn weak, coming over from the House,” the Senate leader said. “There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office.”

The House is poised to vote this week on two articles of impeachment.

The first article accuses Mr. Trump of abuse of power as the president, saying he has invited foreign meddling in the 2020 election based on his July phone call asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and any actions his father, who was vice president at the time, may have taken that aided his son.

The second article accuses the president of obstruction of Congress because he directed witnesses not to testify and shielded documents from the investigation, in both cases citing presidential immunity from congressional demands.

It takes only a majority vote to impeach a president in the House, and Democrats are convinced they have the backing to do it.

But it takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which Mr. McConnell made clear won’t happen.

With no Senate Republican expected to vote to remove Mr. Trump from office, Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, insisted Sunday that the impeachment process “isn’t a failure” despite the absence of bipartisan support.

“No, it isn’t a failure. At least it’s not a failure in the sense of our constitutional duty in the House,” Mr. Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Other Democrats seized on Mr. McConnell’s comment predicting the outcome and accused Republicans of violating Senate rules by staking out positions before the trial in violation of the Senate impeachment oath to do “impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.”

“The Constitution prescribes a special oath for the senators when they sit as a trial in impeachment,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat. “They have to pledge to do impartial justice. And here you have the majority of the Senate, in effect the foreman of the jury, saying he’s going to work hand in glove with the defense attorney.”

⦁ Gabriella Muñoz and Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide