The U.S. Senate plunged into President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial with Republicans abruptly abandoning plans to cram opening arguments into two days but solidly rejecting for now Democratic demands for more witnesses to expose what they deem Trump’s “trifecta” of offenses.
Trump himself said Wednesday he wants top aides to testify, but qualified that by suggesting there were “national security” concerns to allowing their testimony. He appeared to break with Republicans efforts to block Democratic motions to immediately call witnesses and subpoena documents. Instead, Trump said he'd like to see aides, including former national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, testify as witnesses. Trump said he'd leave the "national security” concerns about allowing their testimony to the Senate.
Tuesday's daylong session started with the setback for Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and the president's legal team, but it ended near 2 a.m. Wednesday with Republicans easily approving the rest of the trial rules largely on their terms. With the rules settled, the trial is now on a fast-track. At issue is whether Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power stemming from his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter as Trump was withhold aid to the country, and for obstructing Congress' ensuing probe.
Today on AirTalk, we get the latest on impeachment as opening arguments are set to begin.
With files from the Associated Press
John Malcolm, vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government and director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.
William C. Banks, professor emeritus of law at Syracuse University, he’s the co-author of “Constitutional Law: Structure and Rights in Our Federal System,” (Carolina Academic Press, 2018)