Democrats might have impeached President Donald Trump, but they’re not done investigating him yet.
This week, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) welcomed reports of a new batch of Ukraine-related emails to push for additional witness testimony in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The new documents, seen by Just Security, show that the temporary hold on military aid to Ukraine emanated directly from Trump himself.
“These new documents highlight Trump’s direct role in withholding military aid, and the [a]dministration’s efforts to hide it from Congress,” Schiff tweeted Thursday. “We subpoenaed them, and they refused. Now we know why. A fair Senate trial requires all documents be produced. What else is Trump hiding?”
Schiff goes rogue
Democrats lost most of their impeachment leverage when they voted to charge Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in December despite a nearly guaranteed acquittal, but they have sought to gain some of it back by withholding the articles of impeachment from the Senate while shaming Republicans to stage a trial on their terms. Key to that offensive has been a trickle of documents which, Democrats say, prove that there is more investigating to be done.
For his part, Schiff said that the new “incriminating” documents show a cover-up by the Trump administration that bolsters his party’s case for a thorough Senate trial, according to Fox News. The Democrat leader pointed particularly to a newly reported Aug. 30 email from Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey telling the Pentagon that there was “[c]lear direction from POTUS to continue to hold.”
“As part of our impeachment inquiry, the House subpoenaed these very documents,” Schiff said in a statement posted to Twitter Thursday. “From their deeply incriminating character, we can now see why they were concealed: They directly corroborate witnesses who testified that military aid to Ukraine was withheld at the direction of the president and that the White House was informed doing so may violate the law. The administration did not want Congress to find out why.”
Schiff added that the documents “undermine any claim that the hold on military aid was ordered by the [p]resident for some unknown but legitimate reason.” Republicans have long argued that the aid was released anyway and that it was Donald Trump’s prerogative, as the president, to give or suspend aid for any reason, but Democrats have said that Trump abused his power to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Schumer presses for extended trial
As Republican leaders promise to move swiftly through a Senate trial with few — if any — witnesses, Democrats have insisted that refusal to meet their demands would be a travesty of justice. Leading the charge for additional witnesses is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has called for additional documents to be produced and for witnesses like Duffey, John Bolton, and Mick Mulvaney to testify.
The new documents consist of unredacted emails that were initially obtained in redacted form by the Center for Public Integrity in December. Schumer had pointed to those redacted emails, which showed Duffey mentioning the hold on aid shortly after Trump’s infamous July phone call, to press for more testimony and documents — and he doubled down after the Just Security report was released.
“This new evidence also raises questions that can only be answered by having the key Trump administration officials — Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Michael Duffey, and Robert Blair — testify under oath in a Senate trial,” Schumer said, according to NBC News.
The fishing expedition continues
As Democrats cry foul over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) vows to stage a quick trial, they have made clear that “all the evidence” could mean just about anything. Indeed, Democrats have continued to litigate the Robert Mueller-led special counsel probe and have even floated additional articles of impeachment stemming from that probe, despite voting to impeach Trump over just Ukraine.
While Democrats say that the White House was not cooperative and blocked some of their inquiries about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, Republicans have said that Democrats should have finished their investigations before impeaching Trump and that they have little reason to complain about fairness after denying the president due process.
The Senate returned from holiday recess Friday without any deal to break the partisan stalemate, which has prevented a January trial from promptly beginning. Speaking on the Senate floor on Friday, McConnell was uncompromising as ever, calling Pelosi’s delay in sending impeachment articles a “non-starter,” according to CBS.