Grassley: Senate Doesn’t Need to Hear From Witnesses in Trump Impeachment Trial

December 20, 2019 Updated: December 20, 2019

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Dec. 19 he believes the Senate does not need to hear from any witnesses before voting to whether to acquit President Donald Trump or convict and remove him from office in a 2020 Senate trial.

During an appearance on Fox News’ “Mornings With Maria,” on Thursday, Grassley, the second-highest-ranking official in the Senate, responded to news of the House of Representatives voting on Dec. 18 to impeach Trump on two articles of impeachment.

“First of all, I don’t think we need witnesses, but right now we ought to open it and hear the prosecution from the House of Representatives, we ought to hear the president’s defense, and at that point, you would see about witnesses,” Grassley said.

When questioned about who he would want to hear from when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decides to push forward the impeachment articles, Grassley responded: “I don’t want to hear from any of them.”

Instead, he said, he wants to determine whether the two articles of impeachment—the abuse of power and the Obstruction of Congress—are a “legitimate reason” for impeaching Trump.

“I’m going to measure it against the Constitution,” he added.

Trump was charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors” by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. His impeachment is marked as being the most partisan in U.S. history, with all of the Republicans voting no on the resolution.

Voting almost exclusively along party lines, the abuse of power impeachment article was approved 230-197-1, while the Obstruction of Congress article passed 229-198-1, making Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

A few days prior to the historic partisan vote, Grassley emphasized that the Senate should give a “fair trial” and come to a decision on Trump’s impeachment “based upon well-thought-out testimony for and against the president.”

“But I think that the idea is not to prolong this…not to make it any longer than necessary because the Senate has a lot of work to do and, and we want to get to that work,” he told FOX Business Network on Dec. 16.

He added that Trump hasn’t been charged with “anything that the Constitution says people ought to be impeached for.”

“…Treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors, in other words unlike Nixon and unlike Clinton, in both instances violating federal law, that hasn’t been charged against the president,” Grassley continued.

The impeachment resolution alleges that Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival and that the president obstructed justice when Democrats began to investigate the matter. The president has vehemently denied both allegations.

Republicans say impeachment is a partisan effort to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election. Democrats say their support of the resolution stems from a constitutional duty.

House Democrats have probed the events surrounding the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to “look into” the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Weeks before his ouster, Shokin seized the property of the owner of a Ukrainian gas firm which, at the time, paid Joe Biden’s son Hunter tens of thousands of dollars a month to sit on its board of directors.

Biden has bragged about forcing Shokin’s ouster by threatening to withhold from Ukraine $1 billion in loans.

House Democrats and House Speaker Pelosi were criticized Thursday over the possibility that they might withhold articles of impeachment to delay a Senate trial.

During press conferences on Wednesday night and Thursday, Pelosi wouldn’t say when the articles would be transferred and suggested that the Republican-controlled Senate would not hold a fair trial on impeachment.

In Senate trial, a supermajority vote by two-thirds of the Senate (67 votes) is required to convict and remove the president, meaning 20 Republicans would need to get on board. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and have shown no interest in removing Trump, who wields a 95 percent approval rating among Republican voters.

“She [Pelosi] cannot hold onto [the articles] forever, that’s abuse of power,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Fox Business, lashing out at a possible delay. “But it’s just an acknowledgment from the speaker that their impeachment is so weak that it’s the—it’s the weakest, thinnest, and fastest impeachment in U.S. history.”

Jack Phillips and Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.