With President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate looming, there has been plenty of talk about the potential for a slim bipartisan majority — led by Democrats — to demand that additional witnesses be called to testify. But according to Politico, if Dems team up with a handful moderate Republicans to make such a move, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) intends to force a vote ensuring that there is some measure of reciprocity.
Politico reports: “Paul says if four or more of his GOP colleagues join with Democrats to entertain new witness testimony, he will make the Senate vote on subpoenaing the president’s preferred witnesses, including Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who revealed the Ukraine scandal — polarizing picks who moderate Republicans aren’t eager to call.”
Rand Paul shocks the Senate
Sen. Paul, who actually would prefer to avoid the entire witness issue, made it clear to Politico that forcing a vote would put a lot of pressure on more moderate Senate Republicans.
“If you vote against Hunter Biden, you’re voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That’s what it is,” Paul said. “If you don’t want to vote and you think you’re going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period.”
He went on to assert that his “first preference would be to be done with it as soon as possible and not to have any witnesses.”
“If they insist on having people like Bolton coming forward, my insistence will be not just one witness,” the senator added. “But that the president should be able to call any witnesses that he deems necessary to his defense.”
What a “fair” trial would look like
In a sense, Paul’s gambit would call Democrats’ bluff on additional witnesses by ensuring such a move wouldn’t go in only one direction — against the president. The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson agrees: Paul is making a smart play.
“Even if no GOP senators call for new witnesses, Paul’s point is valid: how on earth can the Senate conduct even the semblance of a credible, fair trial without hearing from the whistleblower, the person who started all this?” Davidson wrote Friday.
He went on: “Moreover, could the American people really stomach the spectacle of an impeachment trial in which Joe and Hunter Biden are at the center of a dispute over whether Trump abused his power, but are never called to testify?”
Indeed, for all of the talk from Democrats over the past several weeks about needing to ensure a “fair” trial in the Senate (as opposed to the decidedly unfair process Democrats conducted throughout their impeachment inquiry in the House), hearing testimony from witnesses called by both sides would be the epitome of fairness.
After all, not even the best efforts of the media would be able to spin a demand for only Dems to be able to subpoena witnesses — like Bolton or Mulvaney — without any Republican input.
What Sen. Paul has done is to lay the groundwork to force Democrats and moderate Republicans to be honest with themselves and the American people, which shouldn’t be a problem — if, as they claim, they are merely interested in uncovering the truth.