Senate

House impeachment managers remain undecided on witnesses

The House impeachment managers, who will begin laying out their case against former President Trump on Wednesday, still haven’t made a decision on whether to call witnesses to the Senate trial, which could prolong it for days.  

Senators on both sides of the aisle are anxious to get Trump’s second impeachment trial wrapped up in a week, and some even hope it can be finished over the weekend, but a decision to call witnesses could prolong it well into next week, when the Senate is scheduled to be on recess.

Democrats are eager to return to work on a coronavirus relief bill, which they hope to pass by March 14, when enhanced federal unemployment benefits are set to expire.

While Democratic senators say they will work on a rescue package during the trial, the spectacle of reliving Trump’s actions before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will distract from those efforts.

The Senate will not vote on whether to allow additional witnesses until the House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers finish making their arguments, and after senators have four hours to ask questions. The impeachment managers and the defense team will have an additional two hours to argue on whether additional witnesses are needed.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday declined to say whether he wants to hear from witnesses, saying the decision is up to the House managers.

“It’s going to be the managers’ decision. They haven’t made a decision yet whether to call witnesses. There is a vote that will have to be made if they decide to call witnesses but I’m not going to prejudge. Let’s see what they decide to do,” he said.

Schumer vowed that it would not hinder work on a COVID-19 relief package if the trial stretches on well into next week because of witness testimony.

“Whether they call witnesses or not and whether there is a vote or not, we will continue to get our work done,” he added.

A resolution worked out by Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) setting up the rules and procedures for the trial states two hours shall be equally divided for the House managers and the defense team to present their arguments on a motion to subpoena additional witnesses and documents after which the Senate will deliberate and vote.

If the Senate agrees to allow the House managers or Trump’s lawyers to subpoena witnesses, they shall first be deposed and the parties shall be allowed “appropriate discovery,” which could extend the trial by another week or more, depending on how many witnesses are called.

Trump’s lawyer David Schoen and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s closest Senate allies, have warned the defense will bring in an array of witnesses to respond to Democratic-called witnesses, which could extend the trial considerably.

“If you open up that can of worms, we’ll want the FBI to come in and tell us about how people preplanned this attack and what happened with the security footprint of the Capitol. You open up Pandora’s box if you call one witness,” Graham told Fox News last week.

Schoen has threatened to call Democratic senators at witnesses.

“I would say you should be able to call then many of the senators as witnesses because of the awful bias and prejudgment they’ve shown,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. 

Tags Capitol breach Charles Schumer Donald Trump Impeachment Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Sean Hannity

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