Not that Senate Republicans care about veterans or former members of the chamber in which they serve, but World War II veteran and retired Senator John Warner (R-Va.) has released a statement strongly urging them to call witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

The 92-year-old Warner served 30 years in the Senate from 1979 to 2009. Prior to that, he served in the Navy during World War II and in the Marines during the Korean War. He was also once married to legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor. Considered an “elder statesman” of the Republican Party, it’s more than fair to say that Senate Republicans should listen to him and take him seriously.

As Trump’s impeachment trial continues, Republicans appear hell-bent on disgracing the institution of the Senate by voting to acquit Trump without hearing from any witnesses or considering any new evidence that has come to light.

If Republicans go through with this sham trial as millions of Americans watch, their actions will poison the Senate and its legacy for all time, something Warner does not wish to see.

In a statement, Warner noted that he served as a juror during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton, so he understands all too well the pressure of the moment.

“I believe, as I am sure you do, that not only is the president on trial, but in many ways, so is the Senate itself,” he wrote. “As such, I am strongly supportive of the efforts of my former Republican Senate colleagues who are considering that the Senate accept the introduction of additional evidence they deem relevant.”

Only a handful of Republican senators are leaning toward voting for witness testimony, but they lack the courage to do what’s right. Only four Republicans need to cross the aisle and vote with Democrats to secure such testimony. Of course, that testimony would likely nuke Trump’s defense and bring down his presidency.

But that’s precisely why witnesses should be called. The witnesses Democrats want to call include former National Security Adviser John Bolton and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, both of whom have firsthand knowledge of Trump’s Ukraine extortion scheme. If Trump is innocent like he claims, Republicans have nothing to fear from these witnesses, but if he’s guilty and lying, Republicans will be forced to convict and remove him from office.

Warner went on to warn that Senate Republicans risk doing lasting damage to the nation and the institution in which they serve. Millions of Americans already believe this is nothing but a sham trial rigged in Trump’s favor. Republicans would only confirm that by refusing to call witnesses.

Pointing out that the norms of our judicial system demands evidence and witness testimony, Warner implored Senate Republicans to do the same.

“I respectfully urge the Senate to be guided by the rules of evidence and follow our nation’s judicial norms, precedents, and institutions to uphold the Constitution and rule of law by welcoming relevant witnesses and documents as part of this impeachment trial,” he concluded.

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