Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer started the Senate impeachment trial negotiations by sending Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a letter with an offer on the parameters, including a request for testimonies from former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
In his Sunday letter, Schumer proposed that McConnell call both Bolton and Mulvaney, along with associate director for national security Michael Duffey and Robert Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney, to testify. All four requested witnesses have direct knowledge of the Trump administration’s withholding of aid to Ukraine and of the Russia investigation origins.
House Democrats had previously subpoenaed the men, but they declined to testify. Schumer suggested that each side get to question witnesses for four hours each and added that Democrats would be open to testimony from anyone else with “direct knowledge” of the holdup of Ukraine aid.
The New York Democrat also proposed 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.”
His offer signals that the Senate does not intend to rely on the House’s impeachment investigation and that it is seeking an evidentiary trial.
“Senate Democrats believe strongly, and I trust Senate Republicans agree, that this trial must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts, and that exercises the Senate’s ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ under the Constitution with integrity and dignity,” Schumer wrote. “The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people.”
McConnell, along with some of the president’s other ardent supporters in the Senate, has indicated that he would prefer a speedy trial that ends before witnesses need to be called. He and Schumer are expected to meet this week to discuss the details of the Senate trial. If they do not reach an agreement, the Senate will vote at each step of the process, requiring the support of 51 senators for each vote.
Schumer asked that the Senate proceedings begin on Jan. 6 of next year. McConnell has not yet responded to the letter from his Democratic counterpart.
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