Schumer vows to force votes on impeachment witnesses

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNew York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat Hillicon Valley: Intel officials warned lawmakers Russia interfering in 2020 | Pompeo condemns Russian cyberattack on country of Georgia | Tech activists see Kickstarter union as breakthrough | Pentagon agency suffers data breach MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that Democrats will force votes on witnesses at the start of the impeachment trial even as Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat Everytown plans ad blitz on anniversary of House background check bill Kentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems MORE (R-Ky.) has secured enough support to delay the decision until mid-trial. 

"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," Schumer said. 

He added that "America and the eyes of history will be watching what my Republican colleagues do." 

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"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," Schumer said. 

Schumer's pledge that Democrats will force votes on witnesses at the start of the trial comes as his negotiations with McConnell are at a standstill. 

McConnell wants to pass two resolutions: The first, at the outset of the trial, would only deal with the rules. The Senate could then pass a second resolution, after opening arguments and questions from senators, that would determine which, if any, witnesses will be called. 

McConnell appears to have the 51 votes necessary to set up the impeachment rules without Democratic support. 

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe new American center Democratic Senate campaign arm raised more than .5 million in January On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump MORE (R-Maine), a key swing vote, threw her support last week behind delaying a decision on witnesses. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump budget includes proposal for US Consulate in Greenland Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Alaska), another swing vote, told reporters on Monday night that she also supported limiting the first resolution to just trial rules, and that a decision on witnesses should wait until after the trial starts. 

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But the rules resolution is amendable on the Senate floor, meaning Democrats are able to force votes to shoehorn in language calling for specific witnesses. McConnell will need, and appears to have, the 51 votes to shoot down any attempt by Democrats to change the language of a rules resolution to include witness.

Democrats want to compel a slew of Ukraine-related documents and four specific witnesses, including former national security advisor John BoltonJohn Bolton'Parasite' studio fires back after Trump criticism: 'He can't read' Trump swipes at 'little wise guy' Brad Pitt, Korean film 'Parasite' during rally Bolton on impeachment: 'My testimony would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome' MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney confirms he'd have to take a pay cut to be permanent White House chief of staff The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Issues with CDC coronavirus test pose challenges for expanded screening MORE

"The Republican leader and several Republican senators have suggested that each side complete their arguments and then we decide on witnesses. The idea is as backwards as it sounds," Schumer said on Tuesday. 

Schumer added that Republicans were "dodging and twisting themselves into pretzels" when asked on Monday about if Bolton should testify. 

"A trial isn't a trial without evidence. A trial without all the facts is a farce. If the president is ultimately acquitted at the end of a sham trial, his acquittal will be meaningless," Schumer said.