In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc- Connell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today put forward a structure for a fair and honest Senate impeachment trial, should articles of impeachment pass the House of Representatives and be delivered to the Senate. Leader Schumer’s letter is the first move to establish a fair bipartisan process in the Senate. In the letter, Leader Schumer asks for specific documents and testimony from key witnesses that were all withheld in the House inquiry. Leader Schumer’s proposed structure would ensure both sides are treated fairly in the trial and given opportunity for rebuttal during opening presentations.
Leader Schumer’s letter also emphasizes that Senate Democrats and Republicans share the belief that the president deserves to have a fair and open trial process that allows both sides to present all of the evidence and adjudicate the case fairly.
The letter also highlights the precedent set in the 1999 impeachment trial, and supported by all Republican senators at the time, that House impeachment managers be allowed to call witnesses.
Leader Schumer’s proposal comes after the White House refused to present any exculpatory documents or witnesses to disprove the evidence revealed in House of Representatives impeachment inquiry, and as some Republican Senators have said they are open to hearing from witnesses and analyzing any new evidence before rendering judgement in trial. The letter also comes after Senator McConnell announced that he was already attempting to corral Republican-only support for a Senate resolution defined by the president and his defense team, rather than one crafted and supported by a bipartisan majority of the Senate.
Specifically, Leader Schumer’s proposal would, among other things, establish that the Senate:
Begin with pre-trial housekeeping measures adopted on Monday, January 6, 2020; swearing-in of the Chief Justice and Senators occur on Tuesday, January 7, 2020; House Managers presentations begin on Thursday, January 9, 2020;
Provide 24 hours to each side for opening presentations and rebuttals and 16 hours for questioning by senators evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats;
Issue subpoenas for Robert Blair, Senior Advisor to the Acting White House Chief of Staff; Mick Mulvaney, Acting White House Chief of Staff; John Bolton, former National Security Advisor; and Michael Duffey, Associate Director for National Security, Office of Management and Budget to testify. All four of these witnesses were asked to testify in the House impeachment inquiry but did not appear;
Schumer’s letter says that Democrats are open to hearing the testimony of additional witnesses having direct knowledge of the Administration’s decisions related to the delay in security assistant funding to Ukraine and its requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine, if the President’s Counsel or House Managers wish to call such witnesses.
Issue subpoenas for a specific, limited list of documents that will shed additional light on the Administration’s decision making regarding the delay in security assistance funding to Ukraine and its requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine;
The documents will include communications between administration officials about the withholding of the Ukraine military assistance and its requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine.
Allow for witnesses to testify and be examined for up to four hours by each side; and
Upon the conclusion of final arguments, the Senate will begin up to 24 hours of deliberations.
The full text of Leader Schumer’s letter to Leader McConnell can be found here at https:// www.democrats.senate.gov/ imo/media/doc/Impeachment% 20Letter%20To%20 Leader%20McConnell.pdf.