“WITNESSES AND DOCUMENTS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 31, 2020) — At approximately 1:17 p.m. EST, the Senate trial of President Donald J. Trump resumed with four hours of deliberation over whether or not “witnesses and documents” will be called for over the coming days.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Senators submitted written questions to the presiding judge, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, directed to the House Impeachment Managers, the White House defense team, or both.
Roberts’s pronouncement of discussion on calling witnesses and obtaining documents from the White House came after Rev. Barry Black read the invocation, as he has each day of the trial.
Some reports on Thursday night indicated that the trial would likely end Friday night or Saturday, but during early coverage of Friday’s proceedings, Fox News anchor Bret Baier announced that his sources said the proceedings would run through Wednesday of next week.
Another Fox News source, however, indicated that Senate Republicans, who hold a slim majority, wish to conclude the trial sooner.
After Roberts asked Lead House Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff (D-CA28) and White House counsel Pat Cipollone their status as an “opponent” or “proponent” of calling witnesses and documents and each responded, Schiff went to the lectern and announced a new development in the form of a New York Times article which appeared to amplify a leak from the National Security Council (NSC) about former Trump national security adviser John Bolton’s upcoming book.
The article is titled, “Trump told Bolton to help his Ukraine pressure campaign, book says” and begins, “More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.”
The book, scheduled for publication on March 17, contains “significant amounts of classified information,” according to a letter from NSC’s Ellen J. Knight to Bolton’s attorney, Charles J. Cooper, dated January 23 stating that the NSC was willing to “assist your client by identifying the classified information within the manuscript, while at the same time ensuring that publication does not harm the national security of the United States.”
The following day, Cooper posted a notice stating that he left a voice message and sent an email to Knight asking for expeditious review of the manuscript in light of the that Bolton could be called to testify “as early as next week.” Cooper’s email indicated that the NSC is focusing on a single “chapter” of the book.
House Impeachment Managers Schiff, Val Demings and Sylvia Garcia, respectively, spoke in favor of calling witnesses and obtaining more documents, followed by Trump’s removal from office by vote of the Senate. Garcia, a former judge and freshman representing part of Houston, was followed by Reps. Jason Crow and Hakeen Jeffries.
Observers have focused on four Republican senators considered “moderate” and the most likely to vote in favor of deposing witnesses. On Thursday night, Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), who is not seeking re-election, announced he would vote against calling witnesses; on Friday afternoon, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) followed suit in a tweet:
On Wednesday, Sen. Corey Gardner (CO), who is facing re-election in November, declared his lack of support for witnesses. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is also facing re-election, has not stated where she stands on the issue as of this writing.
Trump is scheduled to deliver the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 4.