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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Sunday night, Chuck Schumer made his opening bid to Mitch McConnell in the two leaders' negotiations over the Senate impeachment trial.

Driving the news: Schumer has sent a letter to McConnell in which he asks the Republican leader to call four witnesses who refused to testify before the House impeachment committees.

  • The witnesses Schumer has asked for all have direct knowledge of Trump administration decisions concerning the holdup of aid to Ukraine and the requests for investigations of the Bidens and of the origins of the Russia investigation.
  • They are: Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff; John Bolton, former national security adviser; Michael Duffey, associate director for national security, Office of Management and Budget; and Robert Blair, senior adviser to Mulvaney.
  • Schumer also proposes that the Senate issue subpoenas "for a limited set of documents that we believe will shed additional light on the administration's decision-making regarding the delay in security assistance funding to Ukraine and its requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine," per the letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Senate Democratic leader's request — particularly his call for additional impeachment witnesses — may appeal to some moderate Republicans but is sure to meet forceful resistance from President Trump and McConnell.

Between the lines: Schumer offers other suggestions to McConnell, such as the amount of time he believes should be allocated for arguments and counter-arguments. But it's his requests for witnesses that will be most controversial.

  • By tailoring the description of the kind of witnesses Democrats think should be called — those with "direct knowledge" of the administration's decisions related to delaying the military aid and seeking investigations — Schumer may be drawing a distinction between witnesses Trump has sought to shield and the sort of Democrats that Trump wanted to drag into the Senate, including the Bidens.
  • Schumer appears to be trying to drive a wedge into the Republican Senate conference. The bet would be that even as McConnell defends Trump, some swing state Republicans who are no fans of the president may want to at least make it seem like they're seriously examining Trump's actions.

Read the letter.

Go deeper: Dems doubt Senate impeachment trial legitimacy after McConnell vows White House coordination

Go deeper

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.