Despite some Senate Republicans conceding that the president did pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, the chamber on Friday voted to block new documentary evidence and witness testimonies in the impeachment trial, ensuring President Donald Trump’s swift acquittal next week. In a 51-49 vote, only Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine bucked the GOP caucus by voting in favor of hearing from witnesses, inciting polemical criticism of both political parties—Republicans for their perceived failure to conduct a fair trial, and Democrats for hurrying through a sloppy investigation of the president’s alleged misdeeds.
In the wake of bombshell revelations from former National Security Advisor John Bolton – whose forthcoming book reportedly provided a firsthand account confirming that Trump made military aid to Ukraine contingent upon Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announcing the investigations, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (FL), Rob Portman (OH), Patrick J. Toomey (PA), and Lamar Alexander (TN) all condemned the president’s conduct as being inappropriate, but ultimately concluded that it did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
“If you are persuaded that he did it, why do you need more witnesses?” Sen. Alexander said in a statement confirming his opposition to hearing new evidence. “The country is not going to accept being told that they can’t elect the president they want to elect in the week the election starts by a majority for a merely inappropriate telephone call or action.”
“You don’t apply capital punishment for every offense,” he added.
Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, was particularly incensed by the Senate’s decision to block witness testimony, accusing Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of covering up the president’s crimes.
“Urinating on the Constitution is fun when you can get away with it,” Painter said, alleging that McConnell hadn’t had “so much fun” since he spearheaded his party’s unprecedented refusal to vote on then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.
Painter continued to embrace the metaphor in a follow-up tweet.
Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School, who appeared before House impeachment investigators as an expert witness for Republicans in December, castigated Democrats for unnecessarily speeding through the early stages of the impeachment process by not seeking to enforce subpoenas for critical witness testimony and document production in the courts prior to delivering the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“Had they waited for a couple months as I advised, they could have gotten Bolton’s testimony and other witnesses as well as key court orders,” Turley wrote. “It was a rush to a failed impeachment. History will view the decision to rush the vote as one of the most baffling decisions of all time.”
Turley said that Democrats handed this win to the president and his Senate allies.
[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]