Democrat Sen. Jon Tester: ‘I Certainly Haven’t Made My Mind Up Yet’

Melanie Arter | January 29, 2020 | 12:12pm EST
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(Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Photo by William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images)

( – Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) told C-SPAN on Wednesday that he hasn’t made up his mind yet on impeachment, and he expressed the need to hear the testimony of witnesses with “first-hand knowledge” about President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine.

“I think the questioning is going to be informative. I certainly haven’t made my mind up yet, but I will also tell you that I think if the president wants to be acquitted of the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, we need more witnesses. We need witnesses with first-hand knowledge,” he said.

Tester said the Trump defense team talked about the Clintons and Bidens and “all sorts of things that had nothing to do with the impeachment, and as far as what was in the president’s mind and actually withholding funds to an ally.”

When asked whether there was one or two articles of impeachment that the congressman had the most concern about, Tester said he’s “troubled by both the articles as a United States citizen.”

“You guys watched the trial, but the fact they’re holding taxpayer dollars to do investigations of a foreign country on a U.S. citizen let alone a political opponent is very, very troubling to me, and I will tell you something - and I believe this from the bottom of my heart – we have three co-equal branches of government,” the congressman said.

“I think there are cases where the president can withhold the information, but blanket subpoenas on the entire executive branch is a little over the top from my point of view,” he said. 

Tester said the problem he had with the defense team was “they really needed to go after the articles themselves and what the president did.”

“Now they did talk about executive privilege and said the president has a right to do that. Although there’s other evidence that shows those heavily redacted emails when – and this was put forth by the prosecution – when those heavily redacted emails, we found out what was in them, there really wasn’t anything classified in those redacted emails,” he said.

Tester said the question and answer phase of the trial, which begins on Wednesday, will be “instructive.”

“I think we’re going to have the opportunity to ask questions. Even more importantly than that, we’re going to have the opportunity hear a vast array of questions from folks from both sides of the aisle that hopefully these aren’t going to be questions that we already know the answer to. Hopefully, there are going to be questions that we don’t, and I can tell you that we’ve put in about a dozen questions,” he said.

“I anticipate that some of them may be singularly my questions, but I got a notion some other senators may have asked the same question. In that case, hopefully there’s some sort of clearinghouse to be able to combine those questions,” Tester said. 


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