The Senate Impeachment Trial: Call the Witnesses or Concede the Facts - Lawfare
Mitch McConnell has a problem with the facts. The Senate majority leader is taking the position that the evidence presented in the House impeachment inquiry is all the Senate needs to decide whether Trump should be removed from office, and that further testimony from witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial is unnecessary. He has announced that he is in “total coordination” with the White House on the matter and says he has the votes to launch proceedings in the Senate without the commitment to hear from any witnesses. Though senators like Susan Collins have indicated they want to hear witness testimony, McConnell argues that for Republicans to allow new evidence would be “mutually assured destruction” for GOP lawmakers in tight races this year.
There’s just one issue with McConnell’s preferred approach. Unless Republican senators want to accept the facts laid out by the House leadership and restrict themselves to the legal question of whether those facts demonstrate impeachable conduct, they’re going to need to call witnesses.
As many have explained, the House impeachment investigation was analogous to a grand jury investigation, with the resulting impeachment vote akin to a decision to indict. Republicans are now acting as if the House proceedings were a full trial—meaning that the Senate is now acting as an appellate court that can only consider the closed record developed below. Sen. Marco Rubio recently tweeted that the “testimony & evidence considered in a Senate impeachment trial should be the same testimony & evidence the House relied upon when they passed the Articles of Impeachment.”