Schumer Suggests It Won't Be a 'Fair Trial' If Senate Doesn't Call Four Specific Witnesses

By Susan Jones | December 16, 2019 | 8:56am EST
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has sent a letter to his Democrat and Republican colleagues in the Senate, insisting that the impeachment trial "must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts..."

Schumer is requesting four witnesses that "have direct knowledge of the facts, particularly in regard to the delay in the aid to Ukraine," Schumer told CNN's "New Day" on Monday morning.

I don't know what they'll say. Maybe they'll say something exculpatory about President Trump. But for so many people who think that there are many Republicans who are saying yeah this looks pretty bad, but we need more evidence, this is the right evidence.

We want a trial to be fair for the American people to think it should be fair, but not to be a cover-up, not to be something where there are witnesses who have direct knowledge as to what happened and do not testify.

So I am sending this letter this morning, to all of my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, in the hopes that we can come together on a fair trial.

In his letter to his fellow senators, Schumer wrote:

In the trial of President Clinton, the House Managers were permitted to call witnesses, and it is clear that the Senate should hear testimony of witnesses in this trial as well.

I propose, pursuant to our rules, that the Chief Justice on behalf of the Senate issue subpoenas for testimony by the following witnesses with direct knowledge of Administration decisions regarding the delay in security assistance funds to the government of Ukraine and the requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine:

Robert Blair Senior Advisor to the Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; John Bolton, former National Security Advisor; Mick Mulvaney, Acting White House Chief of Staff; Michael Duffey, Associate Director for National Security, Office of Management and Budget.

Schumer said he would be open to hearing the testimony of additional witnesses "having direct knowledge of the administration's decisions regarding the delay in security assistance funds to the government of Ukraine and the requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine, if the President's Counsel or House Managers identify such witnesses."

He made it clear that those possible additional witnesses do not include Hunter Biden:

"Not a single person I've heard, even those who want Hunter Biden -- have even alleged he has knowledge of the fact case the House is presenting. This shouldn't be for Democrats to bring in their favorite conspiracy theories and Republicans to bring theirs. This is an august and solemn proceeding," Schumer told CNN.

"It's a very important proceeding. These four witnesses have all direct knowledge of the facts. If Mitch McConnell or any other Republican says, witness Y or witness Z might also have specific knowledge as to what happened, of course I would think they should be able to testify."

"But witness Y or witness Z does not in your mind include Hunter Biden?" host John Berman asked.

They have not shown -- I agree, they have not shown a single bit of evidence that Hunter Biden can answer any of these facts. He's a distraction. And Let me say this, John, the American people want to know of each of us, as senators, do we want all the facts to come out in this proceeding, whatever we think of President Trump, or do we want to be engaged in a cover-up? No one, no one has given a reason why these (four) shouldn't testify.

"If President Trump is so certain that he did nothing wrong, why -- what is he afraid of? What is he hiding when he says Mulvaney or Bolton or these other two witnesses shouldn't testify?"

According to Schumer, there's "not a single good reason why these folks can't testify. They say the chief of staff shouldn't testify. Chiefs of staff testify before Congress all the time. There's no executive privilege."

Schumer said his letter "is an attempt to create a fair deal, not simply, I'm going to do what the White House wants or I'm going to do just what I want, which is what Mitch McConnell has been doing up until now."

McConnell said last week that he is "coordinating with the White House Counsel," and "There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handled" the Senate trial.

Schumer, in his letter, also proposed that the Senate subpoena a "limited set of documents that we believe will shed additional light on the Administration's decision-making regarding the delay in security assistance to Ukraine."

Schumer also insisted that the House committees have "made a very strong case" -- without first-hand witnesses -- and "there's sort of a burden on the president to rebut that case and he's done none of that."

(Normally, the defendant is presumed innocent and it's up to prosecutors to prove his guilt.)

"I expect some of my Republican colleagues, when they see this letter, will say, that's fair. They don't want to be a part of a cover-up," Schumer said. "You know, people have to believe this government's on the level. We have an obligation to the American people that they believe that this has been done in a fair way, not in a rushed way, not in a circus style way, and not in a dilatory way, but a fair way.

"What I want is a fair trial. I hope Mitch McConnell, I expect Mitch McConnell, will help us create that. If he doesn't, we'll have to see where to go from there."


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