Democrats may have been celebrating the House vote officially impeaching President Donald Trump Wednesday night, but the party was short-lived; now, it seems, they’re setting about the work of avoiding a Senate trial which will, no doubt, acquit the President and leave him in office, and perhaps no worse for wear going into the 2020 presidential election.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been working desperately to make Republicans the villain in the Senate impeachment trial story, first sending a three-page letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), demanding to be allowed to rectify the flaws in the House’s impeachment case by bringing witnesses in the Senate trial, and now it appears he’s trying to drive a wedge between Republican legislators and their leadership, claiming that impeachment will be a “sham” — and the GOP will be responsible — if the Senate trial doesn’t happen.
Schumer repeated the latest Democrat talking point on CBS News Thursday morning, claiming that McConnell is required to be an “impartial” witness — a responsibility he believes McConnell has abrogated by communicating with the White House ahead of the Senate trial.
“The Senate has always been lodged with the responsibility to be impartial jurors and judge this … we want to make it that way again,” Schumer claimed to CBS. “The truth should come out, and we are pushing to get the truth – not a sham trial where nothing new is learned.”
But that’s precisely how the Senate trial works — typically, the Senate investigates the evidence that forced the House to an impeachment vote, and that’s the system Schumer pushed for in 1998, ahead of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings. The Senate is not charged with relitigating the issues investigated by the House or repairing a House case that doesn’t quite make sense.
Sources close to Schumer tell The Hill that the Minority Leader hopes to convince some more moderate Republicans that witnesses are necessary, and that a trial would be “sham” without additional evidence.
“Absent a deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Democrats are expected to force floor votes on their requests for trial documents and witnesses, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton,” the DC-based outlet reports. “Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), backed by members of his caucus, is working to put Republicans in a bind and drive a wedge between GOP leaders, who say they don’t want witnesses, and a handful of moderate and retiring senators viewed by Democrats as persuadable.”
Schumer claims that any Senator who doesn’t want a true trial is “complicit” in the White House’s criminal behavior (which Democrats, oddly enough, have yet to prove): “Each individual senator will have the power, will have the responsibility to help shape what an impeachment trial will look like. Do my Republican colleagues want a fair, honest trial that examines all the facts, or do they want to participate in the cover-up?”
The White House is reportedly working to shore up the support in the Senate, visiting and aggressively courting “questionable” Senators like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and others. White House senior aide Kellyanne Conway has been meeting with Senate Republicans behind closed doors all week, seeking assurances that the Senate GOP won’t splinter.