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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made it clear in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Sunday night that he prefers a Senate impeachment trial with witness testimony and new documents, a direct rebuttal to top Republicans who have argued in recent days that a shorter trial without witnesses would spare the Senate from becoming a partisan circus.
In the letter obtained by CNN, Schumer, a New York Democrat, called for at least four witnesses to testify, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey.
“We believe all of this should be considered in one resolution. The issue of witnesses and documents, which are the most important issues facing us, should be decided before we move forward with any part of the trial,” Schumer wrote in the letter, adding that he would be “open to hearing the testimony of additional witnesses.”
The letter comes just days ahead of theHouse’s expected vote to impeach President Donald Trump, which would set up a trial in the Senate.
Schumer’s letter is the first public outreach between the leaders, who rank-and-file members on the Republican and Democratic sides have argued should sit down to hammer out the rules of the road. But Schumer’s letter casts doubt on whether the two leaders will be able to agree on any resolution that sets out impeachment floor proceedings. Ultimately, the Republican majority has the power to set the rules for a trial without Democratic votes, but it will require almost-complete GOP unity with just two votes to spare in their 53-member majority.
McConnell spokesman David Popp said Sunday that “Leader McConnell has made it clear he plans to meet with Leader Schumer to discuss the contours of a trial soon. That timeline has not changed.”