WASHINGTON, DC — Republican and Democrat lawmakers from the House and Senate disagree profoundly on whether or not to allow new witnesses to testify in the ongoing impeachment trial in the upper chamber to remove or acquit President Donald Trump.
The lawmakers laid bare their disagreements when some of them spoke to reporters ahead of Wednesday’s session of the Senate impeachment trial.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and some of his Democrat colleagues have repeatedly argued that the “facts” collected during the impeachment inquiry are “damning” and “overwhelming.”
Still, they are pushing for more witnesses to testify during the ongoing trial in the GOP-controlled Senate. The Republican majority is unlikely to convict the leader of their party —President Trump.
Schiff told reporters Wednesday he is not open to allowing Hunter Biden to testify in the ongoing Senate trial in exchange for testimony from John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser.
“They want to use this trial to smear the Bidens. That’s not the purpose of the trial, and the Senate should not be allowed to be abused in that way,” the congressman said.
His comments came after the Washington Post reported early Wednesday that several Senate Democrats are considering a witness trade in the Senate impeachment trial, allowing the testimony of Hunter Biden for Bolton’s deposition.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has said he would ultimately allow for a vote for both parties to call their witnesses.
Schiff served as the chief impeachment inquiry inquisitor in the House. Now, he is one of seven managers arguing the case for convicting and removing Trump in the ongoing Senate trial.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), one of several House members recruited for the president’s defense, told reporters that the California congressman is asking for new witnesses because they want the senate trial to engage in a “fishing expedition” for evidence to convict Trump.
On December 18, the House voted to impeach the president, charging him with two articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The vote is supposed to mark the end of the impeachment process in the House.
Asked by a reporter if he would like to hear from new witnesses, Meadows replied:
You don’t impeach a president and then hope you can get the evidence to convict him in the Senate. That’s why the Constitution separates the investigation for the House side and then the trial for the Senate side. And to suggest that we’re going to have this continuing investigation after an impeachment is not what our founding fathers set up, but I also know, I’ve seen Adam Schiff. It’s a fishing expedition.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) noted to reporters Wednesday that by calling for new witnesses, Democrats have given up on the case they impeached Trump on back in December.
When it comes to calling additional witnesses … the Senate is not an investigative body [during the impeachment process]. We are not here to open up new lines of investigation, to chase down things that the House didn’t do. The House had the opportunity to pursue these issues, they did not take that opportunity in most cases, and now they want the Senate … to do their work.
It was increasingly clear to me that they really don’t want to try the case that they have.
Schiff came out heavily against allowing Hunter Biden to testify, telling reporters:
This isn’t like some fantasy football trade, as I said yesterday. This isn’t we’ll offer you this, if you give us that, we’ll offer you a witness that is irrelevant and immaterial who has no relevant testimony but a witness who will allow us to smear a presidential candidate if we want to get a legitimate witness.
However, Hunter’s work for a company in Ukraine that members of the Obama administration themselves deemed corrupt — Burisma Holdings — has been at the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment efforts.
A complaint from an intelligence community “whistleblower” triggered the impeachment probe by accusing Trump of engaging in a quid pro quo by trying to coerce his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, into investigating corruption allegations against Hunter by withholding security aid.
Trump and Zelensky have denied the allegations. The Bidens have also denied any wrongdoing.
Hunter got the job at Burisma in 2014 while his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, was charged with leading U.S. policy towards Ukraine. Joe’s son worked at the company until April of this year.
There is video footage of Joe bragging about pushing Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor in 2016, who was investigating Burisma, by threatening to deny the Eastern European country loan guarantees.
The former VP’s move has sparked allegations of corruption involving the Bidens in Ukraine. Hunter admitted that he got that job at Burisma because of his father’s position at the company.