Schumer vows to force votes on impeachment witnesses
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that Democrats will force votes on witnesses at the start of the impeachment trial even as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (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.”
“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 Collins (R-Maine), a key swing vote, threw her support last week behind delaying a decision on witnesses. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (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.
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 Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
“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.