01/10/2020

Republican senators shut down calls Friday to hear witnesses against President Trump, matching Democrats’ “half-baked, slapdash” impeachment in the House with the most abbreviated trial in Senate history.

Republican senators shut down calls Friday to hear witnesses against President Trump, matching Democrats’ “half-baked, slapdash” impeachment in the House with the most abbreviated trial in Senate history.
GOP lawmakers said it wasn’t their job to rescue Democrats from their own partisan bungles, rejecting a steady stream of “bombshell” reports that continued to come even as senators voted 51-49, nearly along party lines, to decline to hear witnesses or to subpoena documents.
Immediately after the vote the Senate went into recess, and it’s not clear when the trial will wrap up — but the vote on witnesses virtually guarantees Mr. Trump will be acquitted, whenever final action happens.
Democrats said there will always be an asterisk next to that verdict.
“A trial without witnesses is not a trial. You can call it something else, but it’s not a trial,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democrats’ top prosecutor.
Republicans said it was rich for him to demand fairness now, after shutting Mr. Trump out of the process in the House, where his team was denied the chance to call witnesses or to cross-examine Democrats’ witnesses in Mr. Schiff’s committee.
“It was their errors,” said Patrick Philbin, one of the president’s lawyers. “They can’t project that onto this body and say you have to make up for their errors, and if you don’t the fault lies here.”
He called the House process “half-baked.”
That argument swayed several key GOP senators who’d been on the fence, but who said the entire process was tainted by Democrats’ truncated impeachment, which seemed timed more to a self-imposed Christmas deadline than to a complete examination of the facts.
“The House did not even bother to subpoena and resolve privilege claims of key witnesses they now want the Senate to subpoena for them,” Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, said in a statement. “I believe it sets a dangerous precedent – all but guaranteeing a proliferation of highly partisan, poorly investigated impeachments in the future – if we allow the House of Representatives to force the Senate to compel witness testimony that they never secured for themselves.”
Two Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney — did break with Mr. Trump and vote to call witnesses.
“I believe hearing from certain witnesses would give each side the opportunity to more fully and fairly make their case, resolve any ambiguities, and provide additional clarity. Therefore, I will vote in support of the motion to allow witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed,” Ms. Collins said in a statement Thursday.
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