One Democratic House leader is demanding that Senate Republicans agree to certain conditions for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — or else.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Intelligence Committee head who has been at the center of the impeachment process from start, warned on Sunday that Democrats are willing to put up a fight to guarantee a “fair” trial in the Senate.
Schiff issued his warning to Senate Republicans during an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week, where the congressman spoke with host George Stephanopoulos about his favorite topic: Trump’s impending trial. After lamenting that his caucus still doesn’t “know what witnesses will be allowed and even if we’ll be allowed witnesses,” the House Intel chairman insisted that he isn’t even sure there will be a “fair” trial in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) chamber.
“The threshold issue here, George, is will there be a fair trial? Will the senators allow the House to call witnesses, to introduce documents?” Schiff asked Sunday, according to a transcript of the interview provided by ABC News. “That is the foundational issue on which everything else rests, and one thing that the public is overwhelmingly in support of, and that is a fair trial.”
Stephanopoulos pointed out that McConnell has yet to release a “resolution laying out the rules and timetables for the trial,” but the majority leader has made clear that he wants the trial to operate similarly to former President Bill Clinton’s, though perhaps a little quicker.
“We’ve learned that he’s been considering a far more compressed schedule than the Clinton trial: fewer days for arguments, compressed timeline, no guarantee of new witnesses,” Stephanopoulos noted before turning to Schiff to ask what he’s hoping to see from McConnell and Senate Republicans. “What will you be fighting for on Tuesday?” he asked the congressman.
Schiff didn’t mince words. “We’ll be fighting for a fair trial,” he said. “That is really the foundation on which this all rests.”
“Fair” and balanced
So what does a “fair trial” mean to Schiff? (Hint: It’s definitely not what McConnell has in mind.) Looking back to how Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ran their impeachment inquiry in the House, it’s clear that the Dems aren’t interested in fairness; rather, they want the deck stacked against Trump. And that’s exactly what Schiff described to Stephanopoulos this weekend.
At a minimum, Schiff said Democrats want the ability to call hand-selected witnesses to testify during the Senate’s trial, much like they did in the lower chamber. “If Senator McConnell prevails and there are no witnesses, it will be the first impeachment trial in history that goes to conclusion without witnesses,” Schiff asserted.
He went on: “Americans are…going to demand a fair trial, and if the senators don’t give the country a fair trial — one that’s fair to the president but also fair to the American people — the senators will be held accountable.”
Unfortunately for Schiff, he’s not the one in charge.
McConnell, for his part, has persuasively argued that there is no need to hear from additional impeachment witnesses, because the investigation phase of the proceedings has already been completed by the House.
“If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation,” McConnell said from the Senate floor last Tuesday, according to The Hill. “If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place.”