Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that he wants four witnesses to testify, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, in the event of a Senate impeachment trial for President Donald Trump.
Schumer wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over the weekend, telling his counterpart that he also wants Robert Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney; former National Security Adviser John Bolton; and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget, to testify.
House managers presenting evidence against Trump in the event of a trial should be allowed to call witnesses, as was the case in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, Schumer said.
He said Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who would preside over the trial, should issue subpoenas on behalf of the Senate for Mulvaney, Bolton, Duffey, and Blair.
The witnesses have “direct knowledge of administration decisions regarding the delay in security assistance funds to the government of Ukraine and the requests for certain investigations to be announced by the government of Ukraine,” Schumer wrote (pdf).
All four were asked to testify to the House but didn’t appear. Several took their cases to court, asking judges to weigh in on whether they should obey Trump’s directive not to testify.
House Democratic leaders pushed the impeachment inquiry forward without waiting for the courts to decide.
Schumer said Senate Democrats are open to hearing from additional witnesses, if they have direct knowledge of Trump administration decisions that the opposition party is arguing constitute impeachable offenses.
Asked if he’d support calling some of the witnesses that Republicans want to testify, such as the person who filed the complaint against Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, Schumer suggested he wouldn’t.
“We want witnesses who will focus on what the facts that the House presented are. I haven’t heard of a single fact that Hunter Biden might know that that are relevant to the House charges,” he said.
Democrats claim that Trump abused his office when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July to “look into” the allegations of corruption in Ukraine, noting in the call that Joe Biden had bragged about having threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid to Ukraine unless a prosecutor probing his son’s employer, Burisma, was ousted.
Trump also asked Zelensky if he could locate a server belonging to CrowdStrike, a firm hired by the Democratic National Committee in 2016 following a breach.
Because the White House was at the time of the call reviewing congressionally approved aid for Ukraine, Democrats went as far as saying Trump committed “bribery,” though that charge wasn’t brought as an article of impeachment.
Ukrainian officials said they weren’t aware the aid was on hold until weeks after the call.
The Bidens have said they did nothing wrong, as has the president. A House panel approved the two articles of impeachment, which also include obstruction of Congress, on Dec. 13; a vote by the full House is expected to take place this week, before Congress breaks for Christmas.
Schumer and McConnell are expected to meet this week to discuss the details of how a Senate trial would work.
In a statement on Dec. 16, a McConnell spokesman said: “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.”
McConnell said last week that a Senate trial wouldn’t start until January, and would be the sole focus of the Senate until it concludes.