The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is set to get underway on Tuesday, and one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) first orders of business will be to hold a vote on a rules package to govern how the trial will be conducted.
But without even seeing what those rules will be, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed over the weekend to fight them and to try and force a vote right away on whether the Senate should subpoena additional documents and witness testimony, the Washington Examiner reported.
Schumer to force votes on witnesses
Schumer laid out his plan for Tuesday while speaking with reporters on Sunday. “We have the right to do it, we are going to do it, and we are going to do it at the beginning on Tuesday if leader McConnell doesn’t call for these witnesses in his proposal,” the minority leader said of forcing a vote.
He went on: “We’re allowed to amend it and ask for them. I am allowed to amend it — and then if they say, ‘well, let’s wait and hear the arguments,’ we’ll want a vote after they hear the arguments as well, and we will do everything we can to force votes again.”
The question of calling for additional witnesses during the Senate trial has been a hot topic for weeks and was ostensibly one of the primary reasons behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) month-long delay in transmitting the articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate.
Pressuring moderate Republicans
In order to get those additional witnesses called, however, Schumer will not only need to keep all 47 Senate Democrats in line with the demand, but also convince four Republicans to cross the aisle and join them on the issue, which would grant them the 51 vote majority necessary for passage.
In furtherance of that objective, Schumer attempted to guilt a handful of Republicans into doing exactly that.
“And it will be up to four Republicans to side with the Constitution, to side with our Democracy, to side with rule of law,” Schumer said. “And not side, in blind obeisance, to President Trump and his desire to suppress the truth. Because in my judgment, he probably thinks he’s guilty.”
Turnabout is fair play
Schumer also accused McConnell of wanting to do a “rush” job on the impeachment trial that would feature no witnesses at all and suggested that McConnell was “afraid” of what might be publicly revealed by such testimony.
The Senate leader doesn’t come across as someone who is easily frightened, however, and in truth, it is the Democrats who should be fearful of what might be publicly exposed if additional witnesses are called to testify, as not all potential witnesses will be favorable to the Democrats’ position.
Indeed, it has been made abundantly clear that if Democrats somehow manage to get the votes necessary to call the witnesses from whom they wish to hear — such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton or White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — then Republicans will counter with a demand for “witness reciprocity” and call witnesses including Hunter Biden and the so-called “whistleblower,” both of whom sit at the heart of the allegations underlying the entire impeachment.
We won’t know until everything kicks off on Tuesday how the trial will go, but one thing seems pretty clear — it is going to be ugly, and Schumer will exhaust every effort to try and achieve the Democrats’ overarching goal in all of this, namely, ousting President Trump from office.