President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is virtually assured to end in his favor, but not before a tedious fight over witnesses concludes.
As Democrats cry “cover-up,” Republican lawmakers have accused Adam Schiff (D-CA) and his fellow Democrats of pursuing an endless “fishing expedition” to take down the president, Breitbart reported Wednesday. The trial is underway in earnest after a marathon debate over rules Tuesday wrapped up in the Republicans’ favor.
Schiff’s “fishing expedition”
The Democrats are now on day two of presenting their opening arguments after the Senate passed, in a party-line vote, a resolution giving Democrats and Trump’s legal team 24 hours each, spread over three days, to make their cases. The resolution also puts off a vote on witnesses until the middle of the trial, after opening arguments, dealing a blow to Democrats who had sought a pre-trial commitment to allow witnesses.
As Dems make their opening arguments, the parties have traded accusations of bad faith about everything from the structure of the trial to the substance of the charges against Trump. Regarding process, Democrats have settled on a clear, but nevertheless confusing, narrative: by refusing to allow more witnesses, Republicans are engaged in a “cover-up” of incriminating evidence to protect the president.
Democrats have threatened to call witnesses in the House if Senate Republicans refuse to do so, The Hill notes — but at the same time, they insist that the existing case against Trump is “overwhelming,” a contradiction that Republicans have been eager to point out. GOP Rep. Mark Meadows (NC) echoed his party’s feeling when he told reporters that Democrats are on a “fishing expedition” to destroy President Trump by any means necessary.
“You don’t impeach a president and then hope you can get the evidence to convict him in the Senate,” he said, according to Breitbart. “That’s why the Constitution separates the investigation for the House side and then the trial for the Senate side. And to suggest that we’re going to have this continuing investigation after an impeachment is not what our founding fathers set up, but I also know, I’ve seen Adam Schiff. It’s a fishing expedition.”
Dems and Russia collusion
Regarding the substance of the case against Trump, Democrats argue that the president “cheated” in the 2020 election by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his rival, Joe Biden, then engaged in a “cover-up” by blocking subpoenas for witnesses. But Republicans insist that Democrats simply don’t like Trump, that they have specified no crimes, that they are trying to criminalize a foreign policy dispute, and that his impeachment is the culmination of three years of “resistance” that began when he first rose to the Oval Office.
In arguments Wednesday, Schiff validated those claims when he said, according to Axios, that voting is no remedy for Trump’s supposed crimes, since letting the American people choose their next president “cannot [assure] that the vote will be fairly won.” Schiff also tied Trump’s impeachment together with foreign policy, forwarding the strange claim that aid to Ukraine is essential to fighting Russia “over there [so] we don’t have to fight them here.”
In a second day of opening arguments Thursday, Democrats rehashed their talking points about Trump’s “abuse of power,” according to the Associated Press. After Democrats present their case, Trump’s legal team will have 24 hours to respond, and then a vote on witnesses will follow a 16-hour question period.
While continuing to accuse Trump of Russia collusion, Democrats have insisted that there is no evidence whatsoever to justify allegations of corruption involving Joe and Hunter Biden, the latter of whom has received scrutiny for working a lucrative position at a Ukrainian company despite no relevant experience while his father was a diplomat in the country.
Schiff, for his part, dismissed the idea of compelling Hunter Biden’s testimony in exchange for that of John Bolton as a “fantasy football trade.”
“This isn’t like some fantasy football trade, as I said yesterday,” the congressman said. “This isn’t we’ll offer you this, if you give us that, we’ll offer you a witness that is irrelevant and immaterial who has no relevant testimony but a witness who will allow us to smear a presidential candidate if we want to get a legitimate witness.”
The president’s legal team will not seek to dismiss the case outright, The Hill reported. While Republicans clearly want to move on as quickly as possible, they are also eager for Trump’s lawyers to tell his side of the story, according to USA Today.
In the meantime, this “fishing expedition” has by now encompassed everything from Stormy Daniels to Russia collusion — and it will no doubt continue even if Trump is acquitted in the Senate of wrongdoing toward Ukraine. At the end of the day, it’s all a distraction, and Republicans should put it to rest as soon as possible.