President Donald Trump turned the tables on Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) this weekend ahead of his upcoming impeachment trial. The two Democrats should testify, Trump wrote in a Sunday tweet, if they’re going to insist that Republicans should be ashamed to block further witnesses.
Trump was responding to an interview earlier Sunday in which Pelosi said Republicans would “pay a price” if they do not vote to have additional witnesses testify in the Senate, the Associated Press reported. But the president appeared to reverse course later in the day, tweeting that the trial should be dismissed immediately.
“He must be a witness”
Pelosi is doing what she can to spin her party’s loss into a win after conceding defeat Friday in her three-week-long stalemate with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) over the terms of the trial in the upper chamber. Democrats had fought to have Republicans call witnesses like John Bolton and other Trump administration officials, but their hopes faded after McConnell gathered the votes last week to start a trial on his party’s terms.
The trial may finally get underway this week after Democrats appoint impeachment managers and vote to send articles of impeachment, previously withheld by Pelosi, to the Senate. Pelosi, for her part, prepped her talking points for the week in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, insisting that Trump is “impeached for life” no matter what the Senate decides and that it’s up to Republicans whether they want to be remembered as patriots or mere Trump sycophants.
“It’s about a fair trial,” Pelosi told ABC’s This Week, according to the AP. “We’ve done our job. We have defended the Constitution of the United States. We would hope the Senate would do that as well… Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay a price.”
Responding in a series of tweets Sunday, Trump blasted the idea that he should have any “stigma” when he did “NOTHING wrong” and turned Pelosi’s threat back on her party, tweeting: “Why did Nervous Nancy allow corrupt politician Shifty Schiff to lie before Congress? He must be a Witness, and so should she!”
Trump: Dismiss the trial
With little hope of removing Trump from office, Democrats have turned to framing the president’s impeachment as a historic rebuke on its own merits that will forever cast a pall over his legacy. Taking a cue from Pelosi, Democrats have said that Pelosi’s decision to withhold articles of impeachment from the Senate added pressure on Bolton, Trump’s former National Security adviser, to testify, according to Fox.
Meanwhile, Republicans have gradually lined up behind McConnell’s wishes for a fast, no-witness trial plan. Trump, for his part, said last week that he does not want Bolton to testify, according to The Guardian — and despite his desire to cross-examine Schiff, Pelosi, Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and the so-called Ukraine whistleblower, the president signaled in a tweet later Sunday that he may support Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) proposal to dismiss the trial altogether, the AP reported.
Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, “no pressure” Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2020
Dems turn to empty threats
At the end of the day, whether Schiff and Pelosi testify largely hinges on McConnell’s wishes, and the Republican leader has made it clear he has no interest in a partisan circus. But Democrats are continuing to use their shame effort to target moderate Republicans like Susan Collins (R-ME), who is reportedly still concerned about McConnell’s approach.
Democrats have argued that McConnell wants a dismissal with the minimal formalities of a trial, rather than a fair process, but Republicans have dismissed these complaints as little more than hypocritical rhetoric after Democrats blocked Schiff, the Bidens, and others from testifying in the House.
Of course, empty threats won’t remove Trump from office, and they’re not likely to sway Mitch McConnell either. Democrats are looking past impeachment already and making this into a referendum on Republicans’ patriotism — but this framing will likely matter little when Trump sails into his re-election fight with the momentum from an acquittal.