Washington, Dec 17 Democratic lawmakers in the US Congress have proposed a roadmap to a possible Senate trial of President Donald Trump which would include new testimony from former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
“Senate Democrats believe strongly, and I trust Senate Republicans agree, that this trial must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts, and that exercises the Senate’s ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ under the Constitution with integrity and dignity,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference here on Monday.
On Wednesday, it is quite probable that the Democrat-controlled House will vote to approve the impeachment articles against the President, and that would give the green light to an impeachment trial in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow 53-47 majority.
Schumer said on Monday that he sent a letter to all Senators in which he proposed a calendar for the impeachment trial and the issuance of subpoenaes to compel witnesses to testify and documents to be handed over.
In his letter, Schumer suggested that the Senate preparatory activities begin on January 6, 2020 and that the next day Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts be sworn in to preside over the impeachment proceedings in the Senate in accord with the Constitution, along with all US senators.
Although Vice President Mike Pence is the head of the Senate, according to the Constitution in an impeachment trial the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court takes over that role.
The plan set forth by Schumer stipulates that on January 9, 2020 the lawmakers selected by the House to act as prosecutors in the Senate impeachment trial will make their presentations and that they will then have 24 hours in which to present their case against Trump.
The statement of the prosecutors would be followed by that of the President’s attorney, who will also have 24 hours to present his case in defence.
The roadmap suggests that the Senate will not deliberate for more than 24 hours prior to voting on the impeachment charges against Trump, which may not be approved due to the Republican dominance in the upper chamber.
One of the most controversial points in Schumer’s proposal is having new witnesses testify in the Senate in addition to those who already provided testimony for House committees during the impeachment inquiry over the past few weeks.
Apart from Bolton and Mulvaney, the Democratic leader said that his caucus wants to call the senior adviser to Mulvaney, Robert Blair, and Michael Duffey, a political appointee at the Office of Management and Budget who oversaw the process for releasing foreign aid funds, and he noted in the letter that they were all called to testify during the House investigation but refused to appear before the committees.
“The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people. That is the great challenge for the Senate in the coming weeks,” said Schumer at the press conference.
For now, Republicans have not revealed their position regarding Schumer’s impeachment trial roadmap.
Democratic lawmakers announced in September the launching of an impeachment investigation against Trump after a complaint was filed by a member of the US intelligence services over a July telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which the US leader asked Kyiv to open investigations against former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter for alleged corruption in the East European country.
The elder Biden is one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination for the 2020 election, in which Trump will seek re-election.
In recent months, six House committees have undertaken an investigation including the testimony of other administration officials who have said under oath that Trump conditioned the release of $391 million in congressionally pre-approved military aid and a White House visit for Zelensky on Ukraine’s opening of investigations into the Bidens.
On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee published the details of the case in a 658-page document in which it concluded that Trump, in effect, betrayed the nation for the sake of his own personal interests in digging up dirt on Joe Biden, who is a key political rival.