A key group of Republican senators stole the spotlight on Thursday, using a marathon session of the Senate impeachment trial to challenge both President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats outraged over White House lawyer’s claim that some foreign involvement in elections is acceptable Senators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session White House announces task force to monitor coronavirus MORE’s legal team and House managers.
Senators asked more than 80 questions during the nine-hour long session with controversial figures ranging from the whistleblower whose report helped spark the impeachment inquiry to Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSenators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session Ted Cruz clarifies after Lev Parnas’s lawyer calls senator’s tweet ‘fake news’ Republican group launches ad campaign calling for witnesses in impeachment trial MORE to former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonSenators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session Democratic senator to force vote requiring Roberts to weigh in on witnesses Overnight Defense: Bolton, GOP senators see close ties challenged | Republicans fume over Dem maneuver on Iran bills |Trump criticizes Democrats over war powers vote MORE getting name checks.
While many senators offered easy, leading questions to those defending their own party’s interests, the most intriguing moments came from a core group of undecided senators in both parties, sparking a round of attempted tea-leaves reading ahead of Friday’s crucial vote on whether to call additional witnesses.
Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP predicts Roberts won’t cast tie-breaking vote on witnesses Collins, Murkowski, Romney get first GOP impeachment question GOP senators believe they have the votes to block witnesses MORE (R-Calif.) immediately captured headlines when she asked the White House defense team why the Senate should not call Bolton to testify after The New York Times reported that he will claim, in his forthcoming memoir, that Trump tied Ukraine aid to the country helping investigate Democrats, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSenators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session Sanders campaign says it raised more than .3 million in one day after negative ad Warren’s dog campaigns in Iowa while senator sits in impeachment trial MORE and his son Hunter Biden.
“This dispute about material facts weighs in favor of calling additional witnesses with direct knowledge. Why should this body not call Ambassador Bolton,” Murkowski asked in a question poised to the White House defense team.
Murkowsi and Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinCBO’s newest spending report is an abyss of red ink Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense Democratic senator on Manchin comments: ‘Hunter Biden is not on trial’ MORE (D-W.Va.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session GOP predicts Roberts won’t cast tie-breaking vote on witnesses Bakery sending cakes to all 53 GOP senators telling them to let Bolton testify MORE (R-Maine) also took a veiled shot at Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer. Collins and Murkowski are undecided on impeachment witnesses, while Sinema and Manchin are viewed as potential Democratic votes to acquit Trump.
“Will the president assure the American public that private citizens will not be directed to conduct American foreign policy or national security policy unless they have been specifically and formally designated by the president and the State Department to do so?” they asked.
Giuliani, Democrats say, led the effort to oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchHouse Foreign Affairs chairman says Bolton urged him in September to look into Yovanovitch ouster Lawyer says Parnas can’t attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet Giuliani calls Bolton a ‘backstabber’ over Ukraine allegations MORE and then push Ukrainian representatives to open two investigations that would benefit Trump politically.
Collins was also part of a group of Republican senators who questioned if it was ever appropriate for a president to ask for a foreign country to investigate a U.S. citizen, including a political rival. Trump, in a July 25 phone call, asked Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to help “look into” the Bidens.
Murkowski and Collins were spotted having a lengthy, animated conversation with a top McConnell staffer late Thursday night. Sen. Cory Garnder (R-Colo.), an endangered GOP incumbent who has announced he will vote against allowing witnesses, hovered nearby.
Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP predicts Roberts won’t cast tie-breaking vote on witnesses The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump defense rests, GOP struggles to bar witnesses GOP confident of win on witnesses MORE (R-Tenn.), who is expected to announce a decision on witnesses imminently, caught the attention of reporters he chatted with McConnell’s top floor staffer and delivered a note to the GOP leader in the middle of Thursday’s session.
Murkowski and Alexander also joined with Sens. Ted Cuz (R-Texas), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump’s ‘due process’ remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa Impeachment trial forces senators to scrap fundraisers Senators inch forward on federal privacy bill MORE (R-Alaska) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Bolton, GOP senators see close ties challenged | Republicans fume over Dem maneuver on Iran bills |Trump criticizes Democrats over war powers vote Bolton, GOP senators see their close ties challenged Top Democrat: Impeachment verdict is ‘preordained’ MORE (R-S.C.), all four of whom are expected to vote against witnesses, to ask that even if Bolton did testify “isn’t it true that the allegations still would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense and that therefore for this and other reasons his testimony would add nothing to this case.”
The question caught the attention of reporters because it mirrors the argument echoed by several Republicans in recent days: That even if Bolton is telling the truth that it still wouldn’t warrant removing Trump from office and so it wouldn’t change the outcome of the trial.
Alexander was spotted chatting and joking with Sens. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: UK allows Huawei to build 5G in blow to Trump | Lawmakers warn decision threatens intel sharing | Work on privacy bill inches forward | Facebook restricts travel to China amid virus Lawmakers claim progress on online privacy bill Senators fret over lack of manpower to build 5G MORE (D-Wash.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats outraged over White House lawyer’s claim that some foreign involvement in elections is acceptable Lawmakers warn US, UK intel sharing at risk after Huawei decision Democrats worry Trump team will cherry-pick withheld documents during defense MORE (D-Va.) during the Senate’s last break of the day. Pat Philbin, a member of Trump’s legal team, briefly wandered over to say hello, prompting Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP predicts Roberts won’t cast tie-breaking vote on witnesses Senate GOP could move to quick Trump acquittal vote Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense MORE (R-Texas) to make an apparent joke about Alexander’s well known “Lamar!” campaign slogan.
“It’s like Bono. It’s like Cher,” Cornyn could be overheard saying on the floor. “Lamar!”
Alexander also spent several minutes thumbing through a copy of “Impeachment: An American History” by John Meacham. McConnell also read the book to help him prepare for the impeachment trial.
There were also tense moments during the question and answer session, like when Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session John Roberts blocks Rand Paul’s question on whistleblower Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense MORE (R-Ky.) tried to get Chief Justice John Roberts to read a question related to the whistleblower at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.
“The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted,” Roberts said after being handed the slip of paper by a Senate page.
The two men had been engaged in behind-the-scenes haggling over the contents of the question, which names the individual alleged to be the whistleblower.
Roberts indicated privately on Wednesday that he would not read the question, which would put him in the position of publicly outing the whistleblower on the Senate floor. Paul’s Republican colleagues had also publicly signaled they wanted him to back down, but to no avail.
“We’ve been respectful of the chief justice’s unique position in reading our questions,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to force vote requiring Roberts to weigh in on witnesses Evangelical pastor: Jesus would have ‘beat the crap’ out of John Bolton Bolton’s lawyer disputes NSC assessment that manuscript contains classified information MORE (R-Ky.) said at the start of Thursday’s session. “And I want to assure him that that level of consideration for him will continue.”
The question and answer session comes as the Senate is prepared to vote Friday on whether or not to call new witnesses.
As of Thursday night several Republican senators have not said how they will vote on an up-and-down question about allowing new witnesses and documents to be requested as part of the Senate trial.
McConnell can lose three GOP votes and still block new witnesses, as long as Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t step in to break a tie. He could lose two GOP senators and win the vote outright.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSenators take reins of impeachment trial in marathon question session How low will the president go? Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense MORE (D-Calif.) made a pitch to GOP senators that if they allowed witnesses Democrats would agree to limit closed-door depositions to one week. The offer appeared aimed at undercutting the Republican argument that calling in witnesses would eat up weeks, if not months, of time.
“Are we really driven by the timing of the State of the Union? Should that be our guiding principle? Can we take one week to hear from these witnesses? I think we can. I think we should. I think we must,” he said.
Schiff added that if there is any dispute over whether a witness is “relevant or probative” to the issues, or if there are objections over claims of executive privilege, Roberts would be able to make the ultimate call on the matter.
Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowGOP predicts Roberts won’t cast tie-breaking vote on witnesses Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense Trump lashes out at Bolton over ‘nasty’ and ‘untrue’ book MORE, a lawyer on the White House defense team, dismissed the idea out of hand, saying that under such a format, they would not be able to call any of the witnesses they want, like the Bidens or the anonymous whistleblower who first brought forward the allegations about Ukraine.
“I think the irony of this,” Sekulow said, is “that we can call anyone we want except the witnesses we want.”
Still, Republicans are projecting cautious optimism that they’ll be able to defeat the witness vote and move quickly to decide whether to convict and remove Trump from office.
Trump is expected to be acquitted in the GOP controlled chamber, with Democrats needing 20 Republican senators to flip to their side to successfully push Trump out of the Oval Office.
Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate GOP could move to quick Trump acquittal vote GOP scrambles to sidestep messy witness fight Overnight Energy: Democrats unveil draft climate bill | Plan aims for carbon neutrality by 2050 | GOP senators press IRS on electric vehicle tax credit MORE (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican senator, said that the caucus was prepared to go late on Friday if Democrats try to use procedural delaying tactics to drive a final vote late into the night.
“Senator Schumer would be able to amend that. The question is does he try 11 [times],” Barrasso said. “Once he realizes how it’s going to turn out.”
- Exclusive — Marco Rubio: Shift in Hispanic Vote Toward GOP Under Trump ‘Permanent’ Unless Republicans Revert to Pre-Trump Ways
- Trump impeachment: Game over
- Russia's Putin labels Trump impeachment 'domestic political infighting'
- Donald Trump's second impeachment: what you need to know about the US Senate trial
- Donald Trump acquitted in Senate impeachment trial after Democrats fail to secure enough votes
- GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote
- Donald Trump's impeachment trial is a 'politically motivated witch hunt,' defence says
- McConnell Unleashes on ‘Shameful’ Trump—Moments After Voting ‘Not Guilty’
- Past criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries
- Democratic Senator Urges to Halt Impeachment Trial Over New Reports About Trump-McCarthy Call
- GOP votes to dump Cheney from leadership
- ‘Cancel Culture,’ Antifa, Madonna: Trump’s Defense Is MAGA MadLibs—And It’s Working for GOP
- GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump
- Vote-Counting Is ‘Magic’: Far Right Melts Down Over Biden Gains
- McConnell sidesteps Cheney-Trump drama
- Trump backs Stefanik to replace Cheney
- Trump rips Cheney, McConnell, Pence over 2020 election
- Trump, midterms fuel GOP's effort to quash Jan. 6 commission
- How Trump could impact the GOP's 2022 prospects
- Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message
Swing votes steal spotlight in marathon Trump impeachment Q&A have 2232 words, post on thehill.com at January 30, 2020. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.