Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., blasted the House impeachment managers on Sunday for wanting to drag out President Trump’s trial, even while admitting that Republicans prefer to rush the trial to a conclusion.
Calling it an “odd political strategy,” Lankford said Democrats wanted to push through the president’s impeachment as quickly as possible and now that the Senate trial is underway, they want to slow it down.
“They wanted to move as fast as possible, and now they want to slow down the trial as much as possible in the Senate,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s just a very odd political strategy for them, more than a fact-finding strategy,”
Lankford added that most Republicans don’t want to call witnesses to testify in the trial because they want to conclude the trial in a speedy manner.
He also slammed the House managers for insisting that the Senate act like a “special counsel” and look to unearth new evidence brought against Trump.
“That’s not really the task of the Senate,” he said. “The task of the Senate is to hear the trial. The House is actually the one gathering evidence for impeachment, so we’re acting on what they’re sending us.”
Acquittal appears likely, given that Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction and removal from office. Republican senators already eager to clear Trump said Saturday that the White House presentation had shredded the Democratic case.
The Trump attorneys are responding to two articles of impeachment approved last month by the House — one that accuses the president of encouraging Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden at the same time the administration withheld military aid from the country, and the other that accuses him of obstructing Congress by directing aides not to testify or produce documents.
Trump's defense team took center stage following three days of methodical and passionate arguments from Democrats, who wrapped up Friday by warning that Trump will persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervenes to remove him before the 2020 election. They also implored Republicans to allow new testimony to be heard before senators render a final verdict.
The Senate is heading next week toward a pivotal vote on Democratic demands for testimony from top Trump aides, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who refused to appear before the House. It would take four Republican senators to join the Democratic minority to seek witnesses, and so far the numbers appear lacking.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.