Schumer Presses For Senate Testimony From Live Witnesses

Joseph Klein,
Wants a do-over of Schiff’s clown show.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer has proposed that the Senate hear from four current or former high-level Trump administration officials he considers to be vital witnesses in the trial that will follow the House of Representatives’ impeachment of President Trump. These witnesses include Mick Mulvaney, the Acting White House Chief of Staff, and John R. Bolton, the former National Security Adviser. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wisely rejected the Schumer proposal. He argued that it was incumbent upon the House, in their role as prosecutors, to bring the strongest case they can to the Senate for trial.

“It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty,’” Senator McConnell said. “That would hardly be impartial justice. If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Senate.The answer is that the House should not impeach on this basis in the first place.” Senator McConnell emphasized that it is the House’s “duty to investigate. It’s their duty to meet the very high bar for undoing a national election. As Speaker Pelosi herself once said, it is the House’s obligation to, quote, ‘build an ironclad case to act.’” What the House Democrats have produced falls far short of that standard.

Senator Schumer objected and said he wants a vote on whether to call the requested witnesses to testify. “I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony,” he said. “Impeachment trials, like most trials, have witnesses.”

 

Funny how Senator Schumer took precisely the opposite position during former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. At that time, Schumer criticized the calling of witnesses and voted against it. “I wonder if the House managers aren’t a little more interested in political theater than in actually getting to the bottom of the facts,” he said. Days earlier, he had told reporters, “It seems to me that no good case has been made for witnesses.”

Senator Schumer now denies that there is any valid comparison between 1999 and today. “1999 was a different case,” he said on Monday. He is right, but not for the reasons he expressed. Bill Clinton was accused of real crimes – perjury and obstruction of justice – based on a factual record that was far more complete than the record the House of Representatives will be sending over to the Senate for the trial of President Trump. There was a lengthy investigation of Clinton’s wrongdoing by Special Prosecutor Ken Starr before he submitted his detailed report to Congress.

Mr. Starr went to federal court to seek enforcement of certain subpoenas and was successful in obtaining a court ruling against Bill Clinton’s assertions of executive and attorney-client privilege with respect to grand jury testimony from two top White House officials. Less than three months later, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the lower court decision.

Within two months of another federal court ruling that the Secret Service must testify before the grand jury, the subpoenaed secret service agents appeared and three of them testified. In the interim, a U.S. Court of Appeals had heard an appeal of the lower court judge ruling which it upheld, and then-Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist denied an extension of the temporary stay on Secret Service testimony. The judiciary can move swiftly when circumstances warrant. You just have to ask.

It took nearly eight months between the time that Ken Starr received authorization to formally investigate the possibility of subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with a sexual harassment case brought against Bill Clinton and Mr. Starr’s submission of his report to the House of Representatives. It took less than three months between the time that the House Intelligence Committee-led investigation of the Ukraine matter began and the Intelligence Committee’s submission of its report to the House Judiciary Committee. In contrast to Ken Starr’s thorough investigation and pursuit of judicial remedies where necessary to compel testimony of fact witnesses, Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did a rush job. Democrat House leaders could have sought court orders compelling testimony from Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Bolton and other witnesses allegedly having first-hand knowledge of facts in connection with the Ukraine matter. Instead, they chose not to go to court and to rely instead on the wafer-thin record they had compiled.

The House of Representatives has not come anywhere close to meeting their burden of proof required to establish President Trump’s guilt of “high crimes and misdemeanors” meriting his removal from office. They conducted one-sided partisan hearings, denying any credible opportunity to the Republican minority to present a defense with witnesses of their choosing. And they have produced a shoddy work product that would embarrass a junior assistant district attorney. The Democrat majority in the House made their bed. Now their prosecution managers in the Senate trial should have to lie in it.

As Senator McConnell said, Senator Schumer “wants to volunteer the Senate’s time and energy on a fishing expedition to see whether his own ideas could make Chairman Schiff’s sloppy work more persuasive. The trajectory that the Democratic leader apparently wants to take us down, before he’s even heard opening arguments, could set a nightmarish precedent for our institution.”

If Senator Schumer continues to insist on a vote whether to call the witnesses he has requested to testify, which would require all Democrats and at least three defecting Republicans to vote yes, then the Senate Republicans should call Schumer’s bluff. They should insist on a vote to call the whistleblower, Rep. Adam Schiff, Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden to testify. Let’s see who blinks first.