As President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate gets down to the wire, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) says Democrats have no one but themselves to blame for failing to make a strong case against the president.
Speaking to reporters Monday, the Republican lawmaker pinned the blame on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for impeaching the president based on a “half-baked” record of evidence that didn’t include testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton, the Washington Examiner reported.
Stefanik says Schiff sabotaged Senate trial
With a vote on witnesses looming in the Senate, Democrats have been ramping up pressure on Republicans to let Bolton testify in the wake of a leak to The New York Times of the ex-Trump adviser’s upcoming book, which reportedly mentions a direct link between military aid to Ukraine and Trump’s desire to have Joe Biden investigated by the country. Democrats say that the Bolton “bombshell” leaves the Senate with no choice but to call Bolton to speak, but Republicans, including Stefanik, aren’t buying the rhetoric.
“Adam Schiff is clearly scared that his case is so weak,” she said Monday. “Adam Schiff made the decision to withdraw the subpoena. This is an unfair, unconstitutional, and half-baked set of impeachment articles that were sent over to the Senate.”
Bolton did not answer a request from Schiff to testify, but Democrats did not push a subpoena either, fearing an extended court battle. Still, the Dems have since accused Republicans of a “cover-up” by seeking to end Trump’s trial as soon as possible.
Witness vote looms
Republicans have said that the “cover-up” talk is an admission that Democrats sent an incomplete case to the Senate and are now blaming Republicans for their own shoddy work. True or not, the Bolton leak caught Trump’s defense lawyers off guard and injected uncertainty into an otherwise predictable trial, which could end quickly or drag into March, depending on the outcome of a Friday vote on witnesses.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other top Republicans have been working behind the scenes to keep their caucus together as moderates like Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) consider voting with Democrats to allow more witnesses, especially after the Bolton leak. Many in the media have sought to portray Republicans as vulnerable and panicked, but there have been mixed reports of how the caucus is feeling about Friday’s vote.
McConnell reportedly said that Republicans did not have the votes — yet — to block witnesses at a private meeting on Tuesday, but the situation remains fluid. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) said that Republicans were feeling “good” after a talk between McConnell and swing vote Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the New York Post reported Wednesday.
“Obviously we need to make a decision at this point whether to drag the foregone conclusion out for another four to six weeks,” Wicker said.
More hypocrisy from Dems
Stefanik, who was dubbed a “rising star” for sparring with Schiff in the House phase of the inquiry, said that the Bolton leak is irrelevant because the hold on military aid was eventually suspended. She is part of a team of advisers to Trump’s defense team, which includes Republican heavyweights like Mark Meadows (NC) and Lee Zeldin (NY).
For their part, the president’s lawyers have continued to argue that there is no direct evidence of a “quid pro quo,” calling the Bolton book “inadmissible” in their final day of opening arguments Tuesday, according to Fox News. But Trump’s lawyers have also argued that, even if Bolton’s claims are true, Trump’s conduct is not impeachable and his removal would set a dangerous precedent for American elections.
Of course, if they really wanted Bolton to testify, Democrats should have subpoenaed him when they had the chance — but that’s assuming this impeachment is really about Ukraine. In all likelihood, when Trump is acquitted, Democrats will still be crying “cover-up.”