Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is reportedly going to sabotage the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump by working to exclude as many witnesses as possible from testifying, which drew a rebuke from former Obama Solicitor General Neal Katyal on Sunday.
The full House is scheduled to vote on two articles of impeachment on Wednesday. Once passed, an impeachment trial would be held in the Senate, but Senate Republicans are already poised to acquit Trump without seeing the evidence or hearing witnesses.
A new CNN report has revealed that McConnell’s likely strategy is to make sure several critical witnesses never get the opportunity to testify, thus excluding damning testimony, making it easier for Senate Republicans to vote for acquittal while blaming House Democrats for not waiting forever for courts to force certain witnesses from testifying.
Expect this to be Senate GOP argument against Schumer proposal, per sources: Senate trial is not venue for fact-finding; House is. And Dems chose not to go to court to get Mulvaney and Bolton so it’s on them, they’ll say
Though four GOP sens could break ranks and change calculus pic.twitter.com/fsU6axxHTe
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 16, 2019
It’s the exact kind of strategy that is supported by Trump as he demands a circus trial in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and former Vice-President Joe Biden are called as witnesses instead even though their participation really has nothing to do with the crimes Trump is charged with committing.
And it’s clear that McConnell is trying to rig the trial because he outright admitted he is doing exactly that during an interview on Fox News last week.
“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House Counsel,” McConnell said. “There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this. We’ll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with the White House Counsel’s Office and the people representing the President in the well of the Senate. The case is so darn weak coming over from the House. We all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office.”
In response to the CNN report, Katyal took to Twitter to interpret it for the masses, and took a shot at McConnell for being a coward.
The technical legal term to describe this argument is … dumb
It would mean prosecutors could never introduce testimony or evidence that wasn’t presented to the grand jury
McConnell should just say what is really motivating him,he is scared silly of what the witnesses will say https://t.co/8kH8MvFk0o
— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) December 16, 2019
Katyal is an experienced lawyer and former Solicitor General who has already laid out the impeachment case against Trump in a book. If McConnell were to let witnesses testify as he should, Trump would be screwed because those witnesses would make it clear that crimes were committed. In fact, if witnesses like chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton were to testify, it would destroy Trump’s defense.
But as the former Solicitor General Katyal pointed out, McConnell has a duty to listen to all the testimony and weigh all the evidence. The Senate has the power to call these witnesses and they should do so. The reason House Democrats did not wait for courts to uphold subpoenas against those witnesses is that Trump would drag appeals for months, delaying an impeachment that really already has enough evidence and testimony to warrant conviction and removal from office.
If McConnell goes through with his strategy, he will have subverted democracy and the Constitution. And then voters will get the chance to punish him and every Senate Republican up for re-election in 2020 for failing to do their duty.
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