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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:

Go deeper

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Why it matters: While the president hoped to enlist Republican support for the measure, Schumer has worked to ensure he has a solid 50 votes to muscle it through if necessary. A parliamentary ruling Thursday improved his chances.