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Politics Senate GOP defends Trump, despite oath to be impartial impeachment jurors

20:20  15 december  2019
20:20  15 december  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the top Senate Democrat, pointed to provisions in the Constitution governing impeachment : that senators are to act as impartial jurors during a Senate trial on More:Why Trump 's Senate GOP allies are pushing accusations of Ukraine election meddling.

Analysis of the Trump impeachment hearings as the House Judiciary Committee votes on the two “If articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate , every single senator will take an oath to render The Senate has yet to decide whether, if Trump is impeached , witnesses will be allowed to testify to

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Senate Republicans of violating their oath to be impartial jurors in an impeachment trial, as GOP senators defended their right to work for President Trump’s acquittal.

Todd Young, John Barrasso, Mitch McConnell, John Thune standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responds to a question during a news conference.© Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responds to a question during a news conference.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that he was working in “total coordination” with the White House — something Nadler (D-N.Y.) characterized Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” as akin to “the foreman of the jury saying he’s going to work hand in glove with the defense attorney.”

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“That’s in violation of the oath that they’re about to take, and it’s a complete subversion of the constitutional scheme,” Nadler said.

Senators take an oath to “do impartial justice” at the start of any impeachment trial — but several Republican senators argued that impartiality doesn’t cover politics.

“I am clearly made up my mind. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Graham called “this whole thing” a “crock” and warned that Democrats were “weaponizing impeachment.”

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Trump faces two articles of impeachment arising from his attempts to have Ukraine carry out are sent to the Senate , every single senator will take an oath to render ‘ impartial justice’. Asked if it was appropriate for him as a prospective juror to be discussing the case in such terms, he said: “Well, I

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“I want to end it. I don’t want to legitimize it,” he said.

“Senators are not required, like jurors in a criminal trial, to be sequestered, not to talk to anyone, not to coordinate. There’s no prohibition,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said on “This Week,” calling impeachment “inherently a political exercise” and Trump’s impeachment a “partisan show trial.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” also argued that there was nothing wrong with senators having already made up their minds. Calling impeachment an effort to “criminalize politics,” he noted that “we’re going to hear the evidence repeated, but we’re not going to hear any new evidence.”

Senate GOP leaders have been telling allies that they want to limit the trial to a short proceeding, omitting any witnesses from testifying. That isn’t sitting well with House Democratic leaders, who contend that senators should use their trial to secure evidence and testimony that the White House prevented House investigators from accessing.

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Trump faces two articles of impeachment related to pressure he applied on Ukraine to launch political investigations that would help his bid for re-election Asked how he could square his predetermination of the outcome of the trial with his role as an impartial juror as laid out in the US constitution, Paul

They argue that as impartial jurors , they shouldn't make any foregone conclusion — especially about a scandal that could force Trump out of office. “I am very likely to be a juror so to make a predetermined decision on whether or not to convict a president of the United States does not fulfill

“They don’t want the American people to see the facts,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday on ABC, appearing alongside Nadler.

“They realize that what’s been presented in the House is already overwhelming, but that there’s more damning evidence to be had,” Schiff continued. “I hope that the senators will insist on getting the documents, on hearing from other witnesses, on making up their own mind, even if there are some senators who have decided out of their blind allegiance to this president that he can do nothing wrong.”

Nadler added that senators should “demand the testimony” of people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, “who at the president’s instruction have refused to testify.”

There are some Senate Republicans who want to hear from witnesses at the trial. But they aren’t thinking about Pompeo, Mulvaney and Bolton; they’re thinking about the whistleblower and Hunter Biden.

“You can be sure we’re going to allow the president to defend himself,” Cruz said, adding: “That means, I believe, 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.”

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Senate Republicans look to hold short impeachment trial despite Trump ’s desire for an aggressive defense. “I really believe that every senator must take his or her role seriously as a constitutional juror in the impeachment process. That was the design of the framers.

Why Trump 's Senate GOP allies are pushing accusations of Ukraine election meddling. Yet several Republican senators , who will serve as jurors in a likely impeachment trial of President "This is a party that is caught in the thrall of Trump ," Howell said, "and Trump is about to be impeached ."

Hunter Biden, son of former vice president Joe Biden, sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma for five years and was paid as much as $50,000 a month, despite having no expertise on the subject matter. As Democrats have made the case that Trump tried to use his office to pressure a foreign leader into announcing investigations against a political rival, several Republicans have rallied around the countercharge that Trump was right to be concerned about “corruption” involving the Bidens — though it does not appear that Joe Biden, who was closely involved in Ukraine policy, made any decisions to advantage the company.

“I love Joe Biden, but none of us are above scrutiny,” Graham said Sunday, noting there were “legitimate concerns” about Hunter Biden’s activity. But he added that the Senate could look at all of those issues — as well as whatever new information Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani unearthed in his latest trip to Ukraine — “after impeachment” and should move ahead without witnesses.

It is not clear whether the senate will be forced to hold separate votes on witnesses — or if most of the GOP would hold rank in that situation. It takes 51 senators to approve a motion. There are 53 Republicans in the Senate, meaning the GOP can afford to lose no more than two senators on any motion for McConnell to fully control the course of the trial.

Paul guessed that, ultimately, two Democratic senators would end up joining all Republicans in voting to acquit Trump, just as a handful of Democrats are expected to join the GOP in the House to vote against impeachment.

Paul did not say who those two Democrats might be. At this point, some Democratic senators are taking pains to avoid committing to vote to convict the president, even if they are otherwise echoing House Democrats’ frustrations with the president’s actions.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said on “State of the Union” that Trump “did things Richard Nixon never did.” But he hedged when asked whether Trump’s transgressions rose to the need for removal, noting that senators should make that decision “based on the evidence.”

karoun.demirjian@washpost.com

steven.mufson@washpost.com

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