Democrats coalesced behind one central argument after President Donald Trump’s lawyers wrapped up their first round of presentations Saturday, saying that the lawyers’ complaints about lack of first-hand knowledge could be easily solved by including witnesses and documents in the proceedings.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hammered the lawyers’ refrain that was no “eyewitness accounts” of Trump’s wrongdoing, saying that the witnesses and documents Democrats want to be included in the trial would provide that information.
Members of Schumer’s caucus sang a similar tune.
“Bring the people in if you’re so clear that you can be exonerated,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told reporters. “There’s a whole bunch of people who have first-hand evidence, whole bunch of documents that will speak directly to this. And we’re being denied that. So that’s very frustrating.”
Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) responded incredulously to a reporter’s inquiry about what he was “stunned” about.
“The fact that they brought up the fact that cross examination is the great truth seeker — we’re not getting it!” he exclaimed. “The American people deserve the truth. This is not a criminal case, they’re just trying to poke holes.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pointed out that the reluctance to admit witnesses and documents into the trial makes little sense, unless Trump’s allies already know that they’d provide damaging evidence.
“If they want the facts they should permit the evidence, witnesses and documents that have first hand direct knowledge and the documents that are black and white, one way or the other,” he said. “You know, we don’t know what’s in them, we don’t know what the witnesses would say, maybe they would support them, maybe not. But what are they hiding?”
Trump’s lawyers spent some of their brief arguments Saturday pointing out that none of the House’s witnesses saw Trump strong-arming Ukraine directly, and painting their knowledge of what happened as pure speculation.
But of course, that was by design: Democrats in both chambers have tried to get the biggest players — including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — to testify as part of the proceedings, but found their way blocked by ignored subpoenas and a hostile White House. They’ve also been stymied from getting critical documents.
One of the biggest still-unknown variables of the Senate trial is whether four Republicans will join the Democrats to ensure that the evidence is included.