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Schumer renews call for witnesses to testify in impeachment trial in wake of 'game changer' report

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday renewed his call for key Trump administration figures to testify during the Senate impeachment trial in the wake of a New York Times report detailing the White House’s efforts to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

“Simply put, in our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game changer,” Schumer said at a press conference just a day after the Times published an explosive story offering new details about some White House officials’ actions in blocking Ukrainian military aid. 

The report showed the role officials such as acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney 'concerned' by Giuliani role in Trump election case On The Money: Senate releases spending bills, setting up talks for December deal | McConnell pushing for 'highly targeted' COVID deal | CFPB vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency Consumer bureau vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency MORE played after Trump directed his administration to withhold the aid. Among other things, it showed that Mulvaney and Robert Blair, assistant to the president and senior adviser to Mulvaney, were aware that the move would prompt backlash from Congress. 

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The Times also noted that Trump declined to release the aid despite appeals from former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBiden faces challenges, opportunities in Middle East O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Israeli military instructed to prepare for Trump strike on Iran: report MORE and Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperActing Defense secretary makes surprise trip to Somalia Overnight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition MORE.  

"This new story shows all four witnesses we Senate Democrats have requested were intimately involved and had direct knowledge of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE’s decision to cut off aid in order to benefit himself," Schumer said. 

"And when you combine these new revelations with the explosive emails from Michael Duffey released last weekend, it makes the strongest case yet for a Senate trial to include the witnesses and documents we have requested," he added, referencing newly disclosed emails that showed Duffey, an official at the Office of Management and Budget, told the Pentagon to withhold Ukrainian military aid just hours after Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

The House earlier this month voted to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Ahead of the vote, Schumer wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and called for Mulvaney, Bolton, Duffey and Blair to testify as witnesses during a trial.  

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But McConnell said that the trial should not include witnesses and has argued that lawmakers have "heard enough" amid the impeachment proceedings. Trump said in mid-December that McConnell could decide on whether there would be witnesses in the upper chamber trial. 

Robert Driscoll, a lawyer for Mulvaney, told the Times that the acting chief of staff would consider a request to testify in consultation with the White House. 

"I hope every Republican senator should read this story and explain why they would oppose our reasonable request for witnesses and documents in the Senate trial," Schumer said. "This story makes the choice even clearer: Will the Senate hold a fair trial, or will it enable a cover-up?"