CAPITOL HILL - It looks like President Trump will become the third president in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. While Trump could be acquitted in the inevitable Senate trial next year, the battle is about how that process should play out. Senate Republicans are deliberating whether or not to call witnesses when impeachment moves to the upper chamber.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has announced that he opposes the witness demands being made by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). "It is not the Senate's job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to 'guilty'," Politico reports McConnell saying as he's essentially blaming the House for failing to prosecute the case properly.
"I'm not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations and the process. So I don't need any witnesses," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Many Republican senators argue they've already heard enough to push for a short Senate trial with no witnesses, but add they will take their cue from the White House.
"To me, if he would want witnesses called, I think that that delays it. There might be some pitfalls associated with it because I'm guessing we'd probably have to let their witnesses in as well, if they don't give us any new information what's the point?" Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) told CBN News. "I think largely though the Senate ought to be listening to what the president wants to do through his team to finally litigate the defense."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer definitely announced the four witnesses Democrats would like to call forward earlier this week: Mick Mulvaney, Robert Blair, John Bolton, and Michael Duffey – witnesses the White House blocked from testifying in the House hearings.
"I don't know what they'll say, maybe they'll be exculpatory to President Trump but to not have them is to engage in a cover-up, it is to say we're afraid," explained Sen. Schumer on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kOPIVbyl3c
Sen. Schumer believes hearing from these witnesses will make the House case even stronger.
"We want the facts," continued Schumer. "The four witnesses we've asked for, the documents we've asked for are directly dispositive on what the actual facts were. The House came up with a whole lot, but there's some of my Republican colleagues who say, 'look these charges are serious but I'm not sure there's enough evidence.' That's why these people should come."
But Senate Republicans have rejected that idea, saying the House should have taken the time to go to court to force those witnesses to testify if they really thought their testimony was essential.
“We don't need to clean up their sloppy job,” said Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst.
“The House can't decide not to go to court, send us a half-baked case and then say now, ‘You make something out of it,’” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Fifty-one votes are required to either call witnesses in a longer trial or directly move to a vote on the two articles of impeachment. If Republicans decide to call witnesses, which the president reportedly favors, that could open the door for calling Hunter Biden to testify.
Ahead of the House vote Wednesday - the pressure is so high New Jersey Democrat Jeff Van Drew, who already plans to vote "no" on impeachment, is reportedly preparing to switch to the Republican Party - news that triggered a mass resignation amongst his Capitol Hill staff.