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Politics Handful of key Senate Republicans will determine whether to call witnesses at President Trump's trial

17:15  21 january  2020
17:15  21 january  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

Schumer on Senate impeachment trial: 'We will force votes' on witnesses and documents

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Handful of key Senate Republicans will determine whether to call witnesses at President WASHINGTON – A handful of Senate Republicans will determine whether to subpoena The trial rules will be set by a majority of 51 senators . In a chamber with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats

Witnesses : Handful of key Senate Republicans will determine whether to call witnesses at President Trump ' s trial . A simple majority vote of 51 senators is required to pass a motion to call witnesses or documents. There are currently 47 Democratic senators , which means four

WASHINGTON — A handful of Senate Republicans will determine whether to subpoena witnesses at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, as Democrats have sought, or simply hear arguments from House prosecutors and White House lawyers, as GOP leaders have suggested.

Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee have said they are open to witnesses.

The question became more significant Jan. 6, when former national security adviser John Bolton announced he would testify under subpoena, after refusing an invitation to testify during the House inquiry. But Trump has said he might block Bolton's testimony under executive privilege to protect the confidential advice presidents receive from top aides.

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  Schumer: Dems will 'force votes on witnesses and documents' in Trump impeachment trial Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed Sunday evening to "force votes on witnesses and documents" in the impeachment trial against President Trump starting this week, and suggested that Republicans were engaged in a cover-up to block Democrats from doing so. © FoxNews.com President Trump and New York Democratic Senator Schumer comment on the upcoming impeachment trial. During a news conference, Schumer questioned why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

President Trump ’ s defense team outlines impeachment trial strategy, claiming abuse of power is not grounds for impeachment. Handful of key Senate Republicans will determine whether to call witnesses at President Trump ' s trial . USA TODAY.

senators do vote to call witnesses , the president could try to use his executive power or the courts to stop their testimony, delaying the trial indefinitely. pairing one witness Mr. Trump wants to testify, like Hunter Biden, with each one that Democrats and a handful of Republicans succeeded in calling .

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The trial rules will be set by a majority of 51 senators. In a chamber with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats, negotiations over the rules focused the spotlight on whether at least four Republican senators would join Democrats in demanding more testimony from witnesses such as Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

“I expect to have support from Democrats and Republicans because the argument is so strong,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed Schumer's proposal, saying the minority leader wanted "a fishing expedition" to fill holes in the House's flawed investigation. McConnell said he has the votes to begin the trial with opening statements from House managers prosecuting the case and White House lawyers defending the president, followed by senators submitting written questions to both sides.

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But the Senate trial may hold hidden pitfalls for Trump , including some that could be beyond the To make their case, Democrats will seek to call witnesses who might change the way the public perceives Trump ’ s alleged Republicans have vowed to prevent witnesses from appearing in order to testify

The Senate Republican leader proposed impeachment trial rules that push the 1999 precedent toward President Trump ’ s preferences. WASHINGTON — For weeks, Senator Mitch McConnell sought to deflect charges that he was trying to stack the deck in favor of President Trump in his impeachment

Votes come after opening statements

Votes on possible witnesses could come after the opening statements and questions, as happened in the trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

a group of people looking at a laptop: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during annual remembrance ceremonies on Saturday, Oct.  5, 2019, at a firefighters memorial near the Maine State House in Augusta, Maine. © Joe Phelan, AP Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during annual remembrance ceremonies on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at a firefighters memorial near the Maine State House in Augusta, Maine.

“What’s good for President Clinton is good for President Trump," McConnell said.

If the door is open to witnesses, Republicans have suggested calling the anonymous whistleblower, who complained about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led the Ukraine investigation. Trump suggested calling former Vice President Joe Biden to testify.

Romney, who has criticized Trump for urging Ukraine to investigate Biden as "wrong and appalling" and suffered the president's wrath for it, said he was open to hearing from Bolton.

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Trump has been keen for the Senate to dismiss the charges against him without even going through the motions of a trial . McConnell intends to proceed with a trial but there has been no agreement to call any outside witnesses , such as the former national security adviser John Bolton or the acting

President Donald Trump ’ s impeachment trial formally opens in the Senate on Tuesday, promising to shape his legacy, deepen the country’ s political The nationally televised proceedings will be aimed at voters who will decide in November whether to reward Trump with a second term, and determine

"I'd like to hear what he has to say," Romney said.

Collins and Murkowski left the door open to calling witnesses even before Bolton's announcement.

"While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful," said Collins, who supported calling witnesses in the Clinton trial. "Prior to hearing the statement of the case and the senators asking questions, I will not support any attempts by either side to subpoena documents or witnesses."

Murkowski told KTUU in Alaska that she was “disturbed” to hear McConnell say the Senate would coordinate with the White House about how the trial is conducted.

“How we will deal with witnesses remains to be seen,” Murkowski said.

Neither Collins nor Murkowski would say definitively how they would vote on specific witnesses. But they have worked to add language to the Senate resolution about how the trial will operate. Their goal is to add wording that explicitly allows for votes to subpoena witnesses and documents after opening statements.

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The impeachment trial against President Donald Trump began in the US Senate on Thursday, starting with John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, was then sworn in to preside over the trial , which will determine whether Trump will be removed The trial could last weeks if witnesses testify.

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"I have not made a decision on any particular witnesses," Collins said. "When we reach the appropriate point in the trial, I would like to hear from both sides about which witnesses, if any, they would like to call."

Slideshow by photo services

Murkowski said she is trying to make sure senators have a “guaranteed opportunity to weigh in at the conclusion” of the trial on whether the chamber needs to hear from more witnesses.

Another potential witness is Ukraine-born Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who said the president knew about their work in Ukraine. The White House said Parnas isn't credible because he is under indictment for campaign finance charges unrelated to Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Parnas could be a credible witness but that his information must be scrutinized.

Collins questioned the timing Tuesday of House committees releasing new evidence from Parnas.

“I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it’s only now being revealed,” Collins told reporters.

The committees subpoenaed Parnas after his arrest in October, when federal authorities seized his phones. Parnas provided the documents, texts and other information from his phones to the committees this week after getting permission from U.S. District Court.

“The additional documents and information about potential witnesses that have become available over the last several weeks only underscore the importance of a fair trial and a Senate that is open to hearing all of the evidence," said Schiff, who called the documents "deeply incriminating."

Alexander told CNN he is open to hearing from witnesses and reviewing more documents after the opening statements and written questions from senators.

“Yes, I am," Alexander said. "What I think is important is we have a vote on whether we need additional documents and witnesses. And that would only be appropriate after we've heard the case and asked our questions." 

'Can't have it both ways' 

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said that if Democrats are successful in calling witnesses, he would support calling the whistleblower and Hunter Biden to testify. Biden, the former vice president's son, worked for the Ukraine gas company Burisma, which Trump sought to have investigated.

"My colleagues can’t have it both ways. Calling for some, while blocking others," Paul said in a tweet. "If we are going to give a platform to witnesses the Dems demand, I look forward to forcing votes to call Hunter Biden and many more!"

The Constitution imposes only three requirements on a Senate trial: Senators must be under oath, a conviction requires at least a two-thirds vote, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court must preside if the president is on trial. Given that broad discretion, the Senate sets its own rules.

The dispute over witnesses led to an impasse after the House approved the articles Dec. 18. But Pelosi said the delay was worthwhile because of the emergence of more evidence from Parnas and the offer of testimony from Bolton.

The online publication Just Security reported that administration emails from Pentagon officials revealed growing concern during the summer that withholding the military aid might have violated the Impoundment Control Act, which requires the executive branch to spend money as appropriated by Congress.

But McConnell said Pelosi's "one-woman blockade" achieved nothing.

Political advocates have targeted several Republicans who face elections in 2020 for their positions on impeachment and whether to call witnesses. The ads from the advocacy group Need to Impeach, which is backed by billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, have targeted Collins and Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona.

The group has spent $3.5 million on TV ads since the inquiry was announced. The group plans to spend at least $1 million during the Senate trial. 

Nathaly Arriola, executive director of Need to Impeach, told USA TODAY in a brief interview that her group was "closely watching" how the debate over a Senate trial would unfold but wanted to "give members a chance to see how they'll treat this." 

Billboards target GOP senators

Four progressive organizations announced they spent $400,000 the week before the trial began on billboards and digital ads set to run in the home states of eight Republican senators. The ads from Daily Kos, MoveOn, Need to Impeach and Public Citizen urge Collins, Ernst, Gardner, McConnell, McSally, Murkowski, Romney and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina to conduct a fair trial and vote to remove Trump.

Gardner has kept mum on his position about witnesses.

McSally’s campaign manager, Dylan Lefler, provided the Associated Press with a statement in mid-December that she “hasn't heard anything so far that would lead her to believe impeachment of the president is warranted, let alone removing him from office.”

Ernst and Tillis have each said there is no need for witnesses.

“Iowans are fed up with this political exercise that’s slowing us down from getting important things done," such as a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, Ernst said.

The House accused Trump of abusing the power of his office by asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden, by withholding a White House meeting and $391 million in military aid. The House also accused Trump of obstructing Congress by directing aides and agencies to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony, although some officials did testify.

Trump and congressional Republicans have argued that he had the authority to set foreign policy and was justified in fighting corruption in Ukraine. Trump has said he expects to be exonerated in the Senate trial.

A two-thirds majority is necessary to convict Trump and remove him from office, which is unlikely in the Republican-led Senate. But the debate over witnesses comes as more information dribbles out about Ukraine.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Handful of key Senate Republicans will determine whether to call witnesses at President Trump's trial

Adam Schiff Offers Deal to Senate Republicans: Let's Cap Witness 'Depositions to One Week' .
House impeachment manager Adam Schiff on Thursday offered to cap witness depositions to a time limit of one week. "Let's take a week to have a fair trial," he said.Schiff's remarks were in response to Senate Republicans who have complained about the length of the trial, saying there is no need for witnesses to give their testimony to the Senate. Trump himself reportedly wants the trial to be completed before he delivers the annual State of the Union address in February.

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