Two key GOP senators are backing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial should resemble that of Bill Clinton’s in 1999.
On Monday, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) agreed with McConnell that Trump’s trial should follow Clinton’s precedent and defer the process of calling additional witnesses, according to The Hill.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other House Democrats have been demanding additional witnesses be called during a Trump trial. Senate scheduling of the trial has been stalled on Capitol Hill for weeks.
Collins told reporters Monday evening the Senate should consider the question of subpoenaing additional witnesses only after House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team present their opening arguments.
Earlier Monday, former White House national security adviser John Bolton said he would be willing to testify in Trump’s trial if subpoenaed by the Senate.
“We need to do what they did the last time they did this unfortunate process and that was to go through a first phase and then they reassessed after that,” Murkowski said.
Despite Democrats’ professed sense of urgency in passing House impeachment articles against the president last month, Pelosi has delayed sending the charges over to the Senate and refused to name the House managers who would handle the trial until Senate GOP leaders meet her demands.
Pelosi is demanding information from the Senate on how it plans to conduct Trump’s trial and hopes to give Schumer more leverage in talks with McConnell. But neither Schumer nor McConnell has shown any sign of compromising on his respective positions.
Republicans control 53 Senate seats and Democrats have 45, plus the support of two independents. Schumer needs at least four Republicans on his side to pass a resolution for the trial meeting his demands.
Schumer wants Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Robert Blair, a Mulvaney adviser; and Michael Duffey, an Office of Management and Budget associate director, to testify at Trump’s trial.
Collins and Murkowski have been critical of McConnell in recent weeks. McConnell said he would coordinate Trump’s defense in lockstep with the White House, prompting rebuttals from both senators.
Collins is one of 14 current senators who were in office during Clinton’s impeachment. There are also 13 sitting senators who voted on Clinton’s late 1998 impeachment while serving in the House.
Trump is only the third sitting president in American history to be impeached, joining Andrew Johnson and Clinton.
The two articles of impeachment by House Democrats — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — point to Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden while withholding as leverage military aid the country relies to counter Russia as well as his efforts to block the House investigation.
The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict in an impeachment trial, thus making Trump’s actual removal from office highly unlikely in the GOP-controlled Senate.
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