Jan 26, 2020

Adam Schiff: GOP "deathly afraid" of impeachment trial witnesses

Photo: "Meet the Press"

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday on "Meet the Press" that Republican senators are "deathly afraid of what witnesses will have to say" in President Trump's impeachment trial and have made it their goal to "deprive the public of a fair trial."

Why it matters: Democrats have made admitting additional witnesses — specifically former national security adviser John Bolton — the focus of their strategy to convince Republican senators to vote for Trump's removal.

What he's saying: Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, said, "A fair trial requires witnesses. A fair trial does not consist of the person who is charged agreeing with the judges to deprive the prosecution from being able to make a case."

  • "They don’t really contest the president’s scheme. They don’t say 'No, he didn’t try to get foreign help in the election.' They don’t say that there was no evidence that he was conditioning the aid. They just try to make the case that you don’t need a fair trial here, you can make this go away."
  • "But look — if they’re successful in depriving the country of a fair trial, there is no exoneration. There is no exoneration. Americans will recognize that the country did not get what the founders intended because they put the word 'try' in the constitution for a reason."

Of note: Schiff said the president's defense "doesn't have the right" to call "irrelevant witnesses or witnesses who aren't fact witnesses" within the trial, again signaling that he is unwilling to trade testimony from Joe Biden's son, Hunter, in exchange for other administration witnesses.

Trump on Sunday in a tweet said, "Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!"

The big picture: Democrats will need to persuade at least four Republican senators to vote in favor of calling witnesses.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Saturday that it is "very likely" he will vote in favor of witnesses but won't decide until after opening arguments, CNN reports.
  • Several polls released last week showed that a majority of Americans would like to see Congress bring forward new witnesses to testify, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.

Go deeper:

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Romney: It's "increasingly likely" Senate Republicans will vote for Bolton testimony

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Monday that it is "increasingly likely" that he and at least three other Senate Republicans will vote to call former national security adviser John Bolton as a witness in President Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: His comments come after the New York Times reported that Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that Trump told him he needed aid withheld from Ukraine until it helped with investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

Lisa Murkowski won't vote for witnesses in Trump impeachment trial

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced Friday that she will vote against having additional witnesses testify during President Trump's impeachment trial, saying she doesn't "believe the continuation of the process will change anything."

Where it stands: Murkowski's vote likely closes the door on any additional witnesses during the trial. If four Republicans don't side with the Democrats on witnesses, the proceedings could end as soon as tonight.

Republicans brace for domino effect on witnesses

Photo: Getty Images

If at least four Senate Republicans decide to vote with Democrats this week to subpoena witnesses and documents in President Trump's impeachment trial, Hill Republicans fear a potential domino effect, with additional GOP senators — especially those up for reelection in November — falling.

What they're saying: “You don’t want to be one of the first four. But no one gives a f*** about the fifth vote,” a GOP senate aide told Axios. “Especially for all of the 2020-ers. If it turns into a free vote, why wouldn’t you vote for witnesses?”

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020