Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Friday picked apart the increasingly common argument among Republicans against calling witnesses in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Some Republican senators, after delaying a vote on whether to call witnesses in the trial until after the week of opening arguments, now say that calling witnesses would result in a months-long court battle and is therefore impractical, given Trump’s threat to invoke executive privilege to prevent administration officials from testifying.
“They said ‘Let’s not do it now, let’s hear the arguments and then do it.’ And now they’re saying ‘We don’t have enough time to do it,’” Schumer said at a press conference Friday.
“Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth.”
House Democrats opted not to pursue a court battle to force documents and testimony from key administration witnesses after many complied with Trump’s order not to cooperate with the chamber’s impeachment probe. Instead, they added a second impeachment charge, Obstruction of Congress.
In the Senate, Schumer reiterated Friday, subpoenas for testimony would be different than those issued by the House: They would necessarily be bi-partisan — four Republican votes are needed to supplement the Democratic caucus for a majority in the Senate — and signed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial.
“Those who are subject of those subpoenas are expected to comply,” Schumer said. And if they don’t, he added later, “they would be given very prompt judicial review given the urgency and the stakes of an impeachment trial.”
Schumer also pointed to John Bolton, the former national security adviser, who is no longer a member of the Trump administration.
“He’s not in the Executive Branch, so executive privilege cannot be used against him,” Schumer said.
There’s also a simple route, Schumer said. Republicans should “go tell the President not to invoke executive privilege. He’s the one delaying it.”