All hope is not lost for those who would like to see a real impeachment
trial in the Senate rather than a pro forma acquittal of the president. When Senate
Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell announced last week that he had the votes to move forward on a
quickie trial without Democratic input, it seemed that the impeachment would be
over in a jiffy. Now, however, it looks as though the House impeachment managers
may have a chance to call witnesses in the Senate after all.
On Tuesday morning, CBS
News reported that unnamed “senior White House officials” said that they expected
several Republican defections in the upcoming vote to establish ground rules
for the trial. In addition to the usual dissidents, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska,
Susan Collins of Maine, and Mitt Romney of Utah, the report also named Lamar
Alexander of Tennessee, Corey Gardner of Colorado, and Rand Paul of Kentucky as
Republicans who might possibly vote to hear additional witness testimony.
Sen. Roy Blunt
(R-Mo.), the Senate’s number four Republican, confirmed Tuesday afternoon to The
Hill that Republicans did not have the votes to dismiss the impeachment
articles out of hand, saying, “I think our members generally are not interested
in a motion to dismiss. … Certainly, there aren’t 51 votes for a motion to
McConnell, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, also said in a Fox News report that “All 53 of us [the Republican caucus] have reached an agreement,”
but he did not say exactly what that agreement entailed. McConnel did hint that
a decision on witnesses would be made “at the appropriate time” and that “both
sides will call witnesses they want to hear from” at that time.
The possibility of more testimony and evidence is even more
important in light of evidence that has come to light since the House
impeachment vote last month. First, a Freedom of Information Act request
that directly implicated Donald Trump in the freeze of aid to Ukraine. Then
former National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that he would testify if
subpoenaed by the Senate. Then Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani,
turned over thousands
of pages of documents, text messages, and photos to House investigators. The
Senate should also subpoena White House officials and Rudy Giuliani, who
ignored subpoenas from the House.
The cracks in Republican opposition to a trial that allows
new evidence may be the result of polling that shows voters strongly oppose a
dismissal of the articles of impeachment. Morning
Consult found that voters supported a trial with more witnesses by more than
two-to-one. Majorities of Democrats and independents favored more witnesses
while Republicans were almost evenly split on the question.
While it is by no means certain that the Senate will call additional
witnesses, it is at least no longer a foregone conclusion that Senate
Republicans will block additional testimony. Regardless of which side of the
impeachment debate you stand on, this is a good thing. Hearing more witnesses
and seeing more evidence would present an opportunity for the Senate to get to
the truth of the matter.
If you are a Trump supporter and believe the president is
innocent, then you should support additional testimony and evidence that may exonerate
the president and, in so doing, embarrass the Democrats. If you are a Trump critic,
you should support the deeper inquiry because further evidence may help build a
more compelling case that Mr. Trump abused his office. The only logical reason
to oppose further investigation is if you believe that additional evidence will
undermine your preconceived ideas about what happened.
As Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunlight is said to be the
best of disinfectants.” American voters want sunlight to shine on the details
of the Ukraine scandal and let the chips fall where they may. The Senate should
honor their wishes.