GOP Senators Say They Don’t Want Witnesses In Trump Impeachment Trial
Senate Republicans are considering skipping witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, saying that they want “to want to end this thing as quickly as possible,” The Hill reported Wednesday.
The news comes as the House is moving forward with articles of impeachment against Trump, teeing up a trial in the Senate that would start in January.
Trump has indicated publicly that he wants to call House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry to testify.
But Trump allies in the Senate appear reluctant to have witnesses when the outcome appears pre-baked.
“I think a protracted period where there are motions to call witnesses offered by both sides and lots of votes … is not going to be terribly popular with either side. I think there’s going to be a desire to wrap this up in at least somewhat of a timely way,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, told reporters, according to The Hill.
From the report:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked about the possibility of a Senate trial where neither side got witnesses, replied: “I hope so. That’s what I like.”
Pressed on the White House wanting to call individuals like Schiff, he noted that Democrats could, in turn, call Vice President Pence or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“I want to end this thing as quickly as possible,” Graham added.
How to handle witnesses, or who would be called as a witness, has become a persistent point of debate among senators as they try to game out what a trial would look like.
Though both Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers would be able to request witnesses, they’ll need the backing of 51 senators to win the procedural motions to formally call a particular witness. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, warned against getting into a “bidding war” over witnesses.
“When the outcome is almost certain, once both sides have presented their case, I think it would be legitimate to ask is there anymore that we need to hear that is going to change the result, and if not how much more time is reasonable to spend on this?” Blunt said.
He added that “surely no one wants to get into a bidding war of upping the ante on who can call what witnesses, just for the sake of calling witnesses.”
Republican Senators said that they had not gotten a final decision from Trump’s team about what their game plan is or who, if anyone, they would like to call.
But Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said GOP senators were debating rules around witnesses.
“I think the issue would be whether you’re going to call witnesses or not, in general,” he added.