Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) conceded Thursday that his caucus and House impeachment managers likely will not convince four Republican swing-vote senators to vote for more witnesses during President Donald Trumps impeachment trial.
“I hope we can get witnesses and documents. Its an uphill fight. Is it more likely than not? Probably no. But is it a decent, good chance? Yes,” he told reporters Wednesday.
“The president and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell put huge pressure on these folks,” Schumer said, referring to the GOP senators. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have been floated as possible swing-voters, while Collins and Romney both suggested the need to call former national security adviser John Bolton as a witness.
Schumer, on Thursday, said that his “focus is getting four Republicans” to vote on witnesses, and Democrats “shouldnt rely on” Chief Justice John Roberts to act. “We dont know what the four witnesses will say,” he said, adding, “They might be exculpatory. They might be … incriminating.”
At the same press conference, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he hopes there are at least “three Republican senators who are seriously considering joining” Democrats push to vote for witnesses.
The question on whether to call witnesses was muddied this week after a report from The New York Times was published, alleging that Boltons forthcoming book contained details of him seeing Trump link the provision of military aid to Ukraine to investigations. Trump has categorically denied the allegations in the NY Times report.
House Democrats voted to impeach Trump on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and alleged that the president pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals. Trump and Zelensky have denied there was any pressure campaign.
“Remember Republicans, the Democrats already had 17 witnesses, we were given NONE!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Witnesses are up to the House, not up to the Senate. Dont let the Dems play you!”
The Senate will hear another day of questions and answers on Thursday before it will vote on whether to call in witnesses or introduce new evidence on Friday.
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