Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that President Trump’s impeachment trial begins under a “cloud of unfairness,” after the GOP-led Senate rejected all 11 of his amendments to allow for witnesses and documents in a marathon late-night session.
“It was a dark day, and a dark night for the Senate,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the opening day of trial speeches that concluded before 2 a.m. “As a consequence, the impeachment trial of President Trump begins with a cloud hanging over it – a cloud of unfairness.”
In a long, heated session Tuesday, Democrats forced votes 11 times on efforts to obtain documents from the White House and subpoena new witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, in an effort to make the trial “fair.” But Republicans defeated his proposals and passed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution to start the trial without any promises for new evidence.
Schumer, however, expressed optimism that McConnell’s original proposal was changed on the fly Tuesday after pressure from his moderate flank to extend the opening arguments from two days to three days for each side -- avoiding more middle of the night sessions. McConnell, R-K.Y., also allowed for the House record to be entered into evidence.
“I'm glad a few of Leader McConnell's most egregious proposals were expired,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday morning.
After the opening phase of the trial, Schumer will again press for witnesses and documents and hope at least four GOP senators will agree to secure the majority voted needed. During the impeachment trial of President Clinton, the Senate approved three witnesses – Monica Lewinsky, Sidney Blumenthal and Vernon Jordan -- after the first phase of the trial. All three offered video testimony that was played in the Senate chamber.
Schumer and the House Democratic impeachment managers, however, are pressing for Trump administration officials to testify for the first time in the Senate, after they refused to show up in the House for the inquiry.
Bolton is now willing to testify, but Trump said Wednesday Bolton‘s testimony could pose a national security risk and cited executive privilege.
“The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem,” Trump said at a press conference in Davos. “He knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive and I have to deal on behalf of the country?”