Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) capitalized on newly revealed Ukraine emails on Thursday to bolster his demands for an expanded impeachment trial.
The Democrat, who is locked in a partisan impasse with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said that “devastating” documents recently reported by the group Just Security shed light on President Donald Trump’s hold on military aid to Ukraine, according to NBC News.
McConnell wants to move forward with a fast trial featuring few if any witnesses, but Schumer is using the new revelations to argue for the opposite.
Senators returned from holiday recess Friday without having made any progress in breaking the stalemate.
Schumer: New docs deal ‘devastating blow’
The country entered a new year with no signs of resolution in the tit-for-tat set off by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) December decision to withhold the hastily-passed articles of impeachment from the Senate. While Democrats have accused McConnell of wanting to stage a rigged trial, Republicans say they have little desire to dignify the “sham” impeachment by appeasing an unappeasable opposition.
The stalemate hardened Thursday as Schumer and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) dialed up the pressure on McConnell to satisfy their demands for an expansive trial, pointing to a new report mentioning unredacted Trump administration emails. One of the emails showed Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey telling the Pentagon that there was “clear direction from [Trump] to hold” the aid.
“The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Sen. McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested,” Schumer said Thursday. “These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself.”
The group Just Security reported seeing unredacted versions of emails previously obtained in redacted form by the Center for Public Integrity in December, which Schumer similarly used to demand documents and witness testimony from administration officials like Duffy, John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and national security aide Robert Blair.
Schumer said that the new report “underscores the need for the Senate to subpoena the witnesses and documents we’ve requested at the onset of a trial,” adding that “the American people deserve a fair trial that gets to the truth, not a rigged process that enables a cover-up.”
Stuck at an impasse
But Republicans have been clear that they are eager to move on quickly from a process that they say was steeped in partisanship from the get-go, lining up behind McConnell’s fast-trial approach. Democrats had their chance to investigate the president before they voted to impeach him, Republicans have said, and now, it is the Senate’s job to judge the factual record as provided and move on.
In dueling speeches on the Senate floor Friday, Schumer slammed the Trump administration for failing to give Congress notice of the fatal strike that killed Iranian military leader Qasim Soleimani, as McConnell praised Trump for taking out the Iranian operative, according to ABC News. The two also hardened their respective positions on impeachment, with McConnell attacking Democrats for having “flinched,” while Schumer reiterated demands for a “fair” process.
“We can’t hold a trial without the articles,” McConnell said. “The Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that.”