WASHINGTON— For a second day, senators Thursday continued their lines of questioning to the impeachment legal teams to further their party’s arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
Republicans and Democrats approached the question period using similar strategies. Republicans used their questions to provide opportunities for Trump’s legal team to rebut the House impeachment managers’ arguments from the previous three days. Democrats used their questions to promote arguments by the House managers and rebut arguments by Trump’s defense team.
House Manager Adam Schiff, D-Calif., criticized the president’s defense team, calling the lawyers’ legal strategy “a descent into constitutional madness.”
“We are right back to where we were a half-century ago,” Schiff said in reference to parallels between Trump and Richard Nixon’s arguments for acquittal. “That is the normalization of lawlessness.”
House managers said that Trump “cheated” on the upcoming presidential election by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation against the Hunter Biden and his father, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“[Trump is] trying to steal every individual of this country’s vote,” said House Manager Val Demings, D- Fla.
Presidential Counsel Pat Cipollone countered, saying that the impeachment trial is domestic interference on the upcoming presidential election. The main problem, Cipollone said, is with the House managers’ argument about Trump cheating in the election. To Cipollone, removing Trump from office and next November’s ballot takes away the power of choice from the American people.”Let’s leave it to the people of the United States,” Cipollone said. “Let’s trust them.”
Some senators had issue with the autonomy surrounding the identity of the whistleblower who first reported alleged wrongdoing.
Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read a question submitted by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., because the inquiry included the name of the suspected whistleblower.“Chief justice has done a good job running the overall proceedings but every senator, I believe, deserves the right to ask the question in the form that they’ve posed and presented,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R- Ohio.
As the period for questions from the senators ended Thursday, a vote on whether to include witnesses is expected Friday. With 47 members, Senate Democrats need to persuade four GOP senators to vote in favor of hearing witnesses, without losing some of their own members in the caucus. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said that Republicans need to “grow a backbone” and break with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to vote in favor of hearing from witnesses.“The problem with my colleagues fundamentally is they are scared of this president,” Brown said. “Fear does the business in this place.”