Sunday June 7th, 2020 4:45AM

Trump says he's open to trial witnesses -- but backtracks

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor


President Donald Trump said Wednesday he's open to new witnesses at his impeachment trial, a major demand by Democratic prosecutors, but he immediately backtracked, suggesting it could never happen despite what he said was his willingness.

Separately, Trump's lawyers let a deadline pass without filing a motion to outright dismiss the articles of impeachment, ensuring that the trial will continue.

Trump, who was in Davos, Switzerland, for an economic conference, seemed at one point to break with Republican opposition to Democratic motions to immediately call witnesses and subpoena documents. He said he'd like to see aides, including former national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, testify as witnesses.

In fact, his administration is citing executive privilege as a reason they cannot be forced to testify, and he said Wednesday there are “national security” reasons for them to be kept out of the trial.

“The Senate is going to have to answer that," he said.

Republicans have resisted the idea of additional witnesses, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there could be votes on the subject late in the trial. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

As for outright dismissal, Trump has taken both sides. He has said the charges are groundless and should be thrown out, but he also has said he wants a full trial to vindicate him.

Tuesday's daylong session started with a setback for McConnell and the president's legal team — agreement to give prosecutors more days to make their case — but it ended near 2 a.m. Wednesday with Republicans easily approving the rest of the trial rules largely on their terms.

With the rules settled, the trial is now on a fast track. At issue is whether Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power stemming from his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter as Trump was withholding aid to the country, and for obstructing Congress' ensuing probe.

Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled open the session, with House prosecutors on one side, Trump's team on the other, in the well of the Senate, as senators sat silently at their desks, under oath to do “impartial justice.” No cellphones or other electronics were allowed.

As the day stretched deep into the night, lawyerly arguments gave way to more pointed political ones. Tempers flared and senators paced the chamber. Democrats pursued what may be their only chance to force senators to vote on hearing new testimony.

After one particularly bitter post-midnight exchange, Roberts intervened, admonishing both the Democratic House managers prosecuting the case and the White House counsel to “remember where they are.”

“I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body," the usually reserved Roberts said. He told them that description of the Senate stemmed from a 1905 trial when a senator objected to the word “pettifogging,” because members should "avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.”

Over and over, Republicans turned back Democratic amendments to subpoena documents from the White House, State Department, Defense Department and budget office. By the same 53-47 party-line, they turned away witnesses with front-row seats to Trump's actions including acting White House chief of staff Mulvaney and Bolton, the former national security adviser critical of the Ukraine policy.

Only on one amendment, to allow more time to file motions, did a single Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, join Democrats. But it, too, was rejected, 52-48.

Motions from the Trump legal team were due Wednesday morning, but the attorneys didn't file any, said Jay Sekulow, one of the president's lawyers. That means there will be no motion to dismiss the case as some Republicans had discussed. The House also didn't file any of its own motions, and House managers were expected to begin their opening arguments when the floor opened around 1 p.m., according to a Senate Democratic aide.

On Tuesday, the proceedings quickly took on the cadence of a trial.

“It's not our job to make it easy for you," Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee leading the prosecution, told the Senate. “Our job is to make it hard to deprive the American people of a fair trial.”

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, the president's lead lawyer, called the trial “a farce.” He scoffed that the House charges against Trump were “ridiculous.”

The White House legal team did not dispute Trump's actions, when he called Ukraine and asked for a “favor,” which was to investigate Biden as he withheld military aid the ally desperately needed as it faced off with hostile Russia on its border. But the lawyers insisted the president did nothing wrong.

“Absolutely no case,” Cipollone said.

Schiff, the California Democrat, said America's Founders added the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution with “precisely this type of conduct in mind — conduct that abuses the power of office for a personal benefit, that undermines our national security, and that invites foreign interference in the democratic process of an election."

Said Schiff: "It is the trifecta of constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment.''

Sekulow, the other lead lawyer on Trump's team, retorted, “I'll give you a trifecta,” outlining complaints over the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry process.

In Davos, Trump repeated his attacks on Democratic House managers serving as prosecutors in the trial, saying that he'd like to "sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces" on the Senate floor during the trial but that his attorneys might have a problem with it.

And he said he wants to deliver the State of the Union as scheduled on Feb. 4 even if the trial is ongoing, calling the address “very important to what I am doing” in setting his administration’s agenda.

The impeachment trial is set against the backdrop of the 2020 election. All four senators who are Democratic presidential candidates were off the campaign trail, seated as jurors.

No president has ever been removed from office. With its 53-47 Republican majority, the Senate is not expected to mount the two-thirds vote needed for conviction.


Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Eric Tucker, Alan Fram, Laurie Kellman, Andrew Taylor, Matthew Daly and Padmananda Rama in Washington, Jamey Keaten and Darlene Superville in Davos, Switzerland and David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online President, White House, advisers News, AP Online Congress News, AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
A #MeToo moment: Harvey Weinstein's rape trial opens
Opening statements and witness testimony are starting in Harvey Weinstein’s New York City rape trial
11:42AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Guaidó seeks EU sanctions for Venezuela, meeting with Trump
Venezuela’s opposition leader says he wants the European Union to widen sanctions against members of the Venezuelan government as a way to push toward free presidential elections in the country
11:39AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Trump says he's open to trial witnesses -- but backtracks
President Donald Trump says he wants top aides to testify in his Senate impeachment trial, but he qualifies that by suggesting there are “national security” concerns that will keep that from happening
11:38AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Gabbard sues Hillary Clinton over Russia 'favorite' comments
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has filed a defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton over an interview in which Clinton appeared to call Gabbard “the favorite of the Russians
11:01AM ( 45 minutes ago )
Biden downplays tensions with Sanders over Social Security
Joe Biden has sought to ease tensions with Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders after the two candidates exchanged several volleys over Social Security and other matters
10:54AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Trump minimizes severity of head injuries in Iran attacks
President Donald Trump has minimized the severity of head injuries sustained by U.S. troops during the Iranian missile strikes on an Iraqi air base
10:53AM ( 53 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump wants to deliver State of Union even if trial underway
President Donald Trump says he wants to deliver the State of the Union as scheduled even if his impeachment trial is ongoing
7:35AM ( 4 hours ago )
Buckle up: What to watch as impeachment trial takes off
Senators like to float above messy politics in what's known by some as the dignified “upper chamber," home of Congress' cooler heads and lofty rhetoric
11:10AM ( 1 day ago )
Justice Dept. memos back defiance of impeachment subpoenas
The White House has released Justice Department legal opinions meant to bolster its case for defying subpoenas from Congress in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump
6:46PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online President, White House, advisers News
10 Things to Know for Today
Get ready for Wednesday, January 22nd with a few things to know about the day’s news from The Associated Press
7:45AM ( 4 hours ago )
Trump lauds US economy at Davos forum, slams impeachment
President Donald Trump is leaving the World Economic Forum in Switzerland with bullish talk on the American economy and lashing out at his Senate impeachment trial back in Washington
7:35AM ( 4 hours ago )
Awake? Senators struggle to stay focused on impeachment
Some senators are struggling to pay attention to President Donald Trump's impeachment trial
6:36AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Science Says: What to know about the viral outbreak in China
Health authorities are closely watching an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new virus from China
10:53AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Putin to meet mother of Israeli backpacker jailed over hash
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with the mother of an Israeli tourist who was jailed for carrying a few grams of hashish
10:47AM ( 59 minutes ago )
Years after SARS, a more confident China faces a new virus
Nearly two decades after the disastrously handled SARS epidemic, China’s more open response to a new virus signals its growing confidence and greater awareness of the pitfalls of censorship, even though the government remains as authoritarian as ever
10:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Guaidó seeks EU sanctions for Venezuela, meeting with Trump
Venezuela’s opposition leader says he wants the European Union to widen sanctions against members of the Venezuelan government as a way to push toward free presidential elections in the country
11:39AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Kansas coach Self: School preparing punishment for brawl
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self says the school has thoroughly examined footage from the Jayhawks' brawl with Kansas State near the end of their game Tuesday night and vows that punishments will be handed out quickly
11:35AM ( 11 minutes ago )
UConn vs Tennessee rivalry renewed in women's hoops Thursday
The matchup of Connecticut versus Tennessee was a pivotal rivalry for women's basketball for more than a decade
11:30AM ( 16 minutes ago )
US home sales soared 3.6% in December
U.S. home sales climbed 3.6% in December
11:29AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Cardinals WR Fitzgerald purchases minority stake in Suns
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has purchased a minority stake in the NBA's Phoenix Suns
11:18AM ( 28 minutes ago )