Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), apparently under the impression that he controls the Senate and can dictate the parameters of President Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial, issued a list of Democrat “demands” to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other leading Republicans, outlining witnesses, evidence, and testimony he would like presented, as well as proposed timeline for proceedings.
Schumer sent the three-page letter to McConnell late Sunday, ostensibly to maximize visibility and capture headlines Monday morning, and to coincide with an appearance on CNN.
In his remarks, Schumer called the impeachment trial a “bipartisan” effort and suggested that Republicans and Democrats should work together for a mutually beneficial trial scenario.
“I am sending this letter to all of my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, in the hopes that we can come together on a fair trial,” he told CNN Monday.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) December 16, 2019
Most importantly, it seems, Schumer wants the ability to subpoena witnesses, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security advisor John Bolton, and to present evidence, perhaps to make up for Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) shortcomings in the House. Schiff greatly limited witness testimony and denied Republican requests for subpoeans altogether, likely out of fear that officials who were once close to the president might present some exculpatory evidence on national television.
“In the trial of President Clinton, the House Managers were permitted to call witnesses, and it is clear that the Senate should hear testimony of witnesses in this trial as well,” Schumer wrote.
“I propose, pursuant to our rules,” Schumer continued, “that the Chief Justice on behalf of the Senate issue subpoenas for testimony by the following witnesses with direct knowledge of Administration decisions regarding the delay in security assistance funds to the government of Ukraine and the requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine: Robert Blair, Senior Advisor to the Acting White House Chief of Staff; Mick Mulvaney, Acting White House Chief of Staff; John Bolton, former National Security Advisor; and Michael Duffey, Associate Director for National Security, Office of Management and Budget.”
“We would of course be open to hearing the testimony of additional witnesses having direct knowledge of the administration’s decisions regarding the delay in security assistance funds to the government of Ukraine and the requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine, if the president’s counsel or House Managers identify such witnesses,” he concluded.
But Schumer had barely issued his demands before Republicans and conservatives on social media fired back, noting that, ahead of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, Schumer actively opposed allowing witnesses to testify.
“It seems to me that no good case has been made for witnesses,” Schumer told a press conference in 1999, according to Fox News. “I wonder if the House managers aren’t a little more interested in political theater than in actually getting to the bottom of the facts,” he added just a few days later.
Schumer tried and failed to make a distinction between the two trials, claiming witnesses at Clinton’s trial could have turned a very serious proceeding into a salacious media circus.
“1999 was a different case, there were all the obvious reasons why they did not want a witness like Monica Lewinsky testifying in public,” he said during a press conference Monday. “I was there, and it related to what the questions might be about, that the whole nation including children would be watching. It’s a totally different situation – there’s no analogy.”
Schumer probably won’t get what he wants, regardless. The Senate will decide whether they want to call witnesses in a floor vote, and McConnell was clear — he will take direction on the issue from the White House counsel, not from the opposition.
There will “be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this,” McConnell told Fox News last week. “Everything I do during this, I will be coordinating with White House counsel.”
The House is expected to vote on articles of impeachment this week, after the official report dropped overnight between Sunday and Monday. Schumer wants the Senate to get right on the trial, scheduling it for as early as January 9th, so as not to affect the 2020 Democratic nomination process or the early primaries. McConnell will have the final say over the calendar.