Saturday, March 2, 2024

GOP Sens. Block New Witnesses as Dull Impeachment Trial Drags into Wee Hours

Tedious late-night discussion focuses on subpoena of bureaucratic documents concerning military aid to Ukraine…

Jay Sekulow / IMAGE: CSPAN

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Senators capped off the first official day of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial with a slate of procedural issues, ultimately tabling by party line an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY, to allow new witnesses and evidence prior to opening arguments.

Schumer followed his initial motion with an additional amendment proposal to subpoena White House officials whom Trump’s lawyers argued were protected by executive privilege laws long upheld by the courts.

Co-counsels Pat Cipillone and Jay Sekulow argued that such laws were in place to permit open and frank discussions among executive staff members.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., moved to proceed with the two hours’ arguments on the second amendment before a planned 30-minute dinner break, indicating that the dry proceedings would last well into the night.

Despite taking place in prime-time, the bean-counting discussions related to the Office of Management and Budget documents about Trump’s decision to delay military aid to Ukraine were unlikely to captivate a broad audience.

The dullness stood in stark contrast to the pomp and ceremony of President Bill Clinton‘s impeachment, as well as lacking the lurid, sensationalist drama that saw even Hustler publisher Larry Flynt become involved in the political intrigue.

The relative lack of fireworks suggested that the impeachment effort may well lose steam quickly, despite some recent suggestions that it may drag on for months.

Republicans sought a speedy resolution to the effort, widely viewed as a partisan witch hunt.

However, Democrats—in particular the four presidential candidates losing precious campaign time just two weeks before the first primaries—may also grow weary soon of the quixotic slog, which is unlikely to result in a surprise outcome.

Although McConnell acknowledged prior to the opening proceedings that he did not have the votes to move for an immediate dismissal, it seemed an auspicious signal that all 53 GOP senators supported the tabling of Schumer’s first amendment.

Speculation that centrist Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado and others might buckle under political pressure proved unfounded.

McConnell would need only 51 votes to dismiss the impeachment proceedings outright.

As noteworthy as the Republican votes was the votes of vulnerable blue-dog Democrats, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana.

A handful of Democrats sided with Republicans during the House of Representatives votes on articles of impeachment. Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey ultimately switched parties over his opposition to impeachment.

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