Sen. Richard Blumnethal joins fellow Democrats Chris Coons, Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, and Chis Van Hollen in demanding witnesses at Trump's impeachment trial.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is sworn in Thursday at the start of the Senate impeachment trial.

Washington – On the day they were sworn in as jurors for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Connecticut’s senators joined their Democratic colleagues to press a contentious issue that will roil proceedings when the trial officially begins next week.

Namely, the calling of witnesses and inclusion of new documents and information at the trial.

An hour after Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and their fellow senators were sworn in as jurors, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he will likely force votes on witnesses on Tuesday.

For Schumer to win on this issue, four Republicans would have to defect and give minority Democrats a 51-vote majority, which could be politically difficult.

The witnesses Schumer and fellow Democrats would like to hear from are White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; former National Security Adviser John Bolton; senior adviser to Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey.

“Each of these witnesses had eyes and ears on the president of the United States. They had first-hand knowledge and must appear,” said Blumenthal, who joined Schumer and other Democrats in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Thursday afternoon to make their case.

For weeks there’s been a partisan standoff over how Trump’s trial will be conducted.

While Democrats want to call witnesses and seek documents from the Trump administration that were blocked from House  lawmakers who conducted the impeachment inquiry, Republicans say all investigations should have been completed in the House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rebuffed the calls for new witnesses at the outset of the trial. He has also indicated the question of whether to hear witnesses will be decided after House managers and the president’s defense team present their cases.

But Democratic cries for more witnesses have been emboldened by an MSNBC interview late Wednesday given by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who said the president knew of the campaign to pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Democrats were also bolstered by a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday that said Trump broke the law by withholding defense aid to Ukraine, allegedly to step up the pressure on Kiev to investigate the Bidens.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal joins fellow Democrats Chris Coons, Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, and Chis Van Hollen in demanding witnesses at Trump’s impeachment trial.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal joins fellow Democrats Chris Coons, Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, and Chis Van Hollen in demanding witnesses at Trump’s impeachment trial.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the GAO said.

Murphy said the GAO confirms “what we already knew: President Trump’s hold on Ukraine aid was illegal.”

“The fact that the president decided to move forward, despite warnings from advisors, shows the scope of his abuse of power,” said Murphy. “This finding, combined with the revelations from Lev Parnas this week and every other piece of evidence uncovered by House investigators, highlight the critical need for the Senate to conduct a fair and comprehensive trial that hears from witnesses and gathers additional documents.”

Blumenthal said “Documents don’t lie. It’s black and white.”

Both Murphy and Blumenthal have appealed to Senate  Republicans  to support their call for witnesses.

“I hope my Republican colleagues can put country over party,” Blumenthal said.

Thursday was a day of solemnity and tradition.

After the swearing in of senators and the presentation of the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was sworn in to preside over the trial.

But McConnell said the trial will begin “in earnest” next week. That’s when the Senate will vote on the rules that will govern the impeachment trial, the third in U.S. history, and begin to hear the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team make their cases.

Senators have received a list of strict rules they must follow.They won’t be able to bring their cell phones or any other electronic devices to the floor, speak to others, and must remain largely at their desks during proceedings.

And the Senate will be in session Monday through Saturday, a stark difference from the chamber’s normal Monday evening to Thursday afternoon schedule. That will limit the time Blumenthal and Murphy will be in Connecticut during the trial.

The duration of the trial is unknown, but Republicans have made it clear they want it over quickly. But some of them have threatened to call witnesses if Democrats do, especially Hunter Biden.

The White House also wants to put a quick end to what it says is a “sham” impeachment, a charge echoed by Trump’s allies in Congress.

“They just hate this guy so much,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., of congressional Democrats. “It’s been an unending effort to destroy his presidency.”

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif, is the leader of the seven House managers who will prosecute the case. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y, and Reps. Hakeem Jefferies, D-N.Y., Val Demings, D-Fla. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas and Jason Crow, D-Col., round out the team.

Meanwhile, White House counsel Pat Cipollone will lead Trump’s defense team, with the president’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, as his assistant.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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19 Comments

  1. The evidence is overwhelming. The only way Trump can be exonerated is by witnesses who can somehow give evidence in his favor. And we all know that isn’t happening.

      1. Joe and Hunter Biden have zero direct knowledge of the conduct that Trump has been impeached for. The demand to hear from them is being used as disinformation for the people who don’t read/listen to factual sources.

        VP Biden was overseeing American policy toward Ukraine when in office, and he did push for the removal of the country’s top prosecutor, who was seen as corrupt or ineffectual by the United States AND ALL other Western European governments. AND REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS AND SENATE also pushed for that prosecutor to be removed. Yet another made up story stated/promoted is that Biden somehow went rogue and tried to get prosecutor fired to protect his son. My opinion is that Hunter Biden had no business being on that Company’s Board & it is yet another of the zillion examples of Political who you know garbage that has been going on since the Cavemen days and disgusts me. If Hunter / Joe are innocent or guilty of _______, it is a totally separate issue of why Trump has been impeached.

      2. Thank you for the response. I agree the Biden Scandal does not have a bearing on Pres Trump. However. It is still a crime, and needs to be prosecuted. That being said, I ask you put you bias aside and compare Pres Trumps actions against previous Presidents such as Obama, Clinton, etc. Do you still think he operated outside of the scope of his position?

      3. Trump clearly should be impeached. The abuse of power in withholding aid to Ukraine until they investigated the Biden’s is so far past the line that the Constitution draws.
        Even more impeachable to me is the insane, brazen obstruction of justice. For the life of me, I can’t even remotely understand why the courts haven’t forced him to honor subpoenas for witnesses and documents. Trump can appeal this endlessly??? The legal system is a big joke in this country.
        Clinton was impeached for lying that he had sex with an intern. Trump’s actions to me are treasonous. Sex vs Treason. Which is worse?

        Not sure what crime that you are referring to with the Biden’s.

      4. Thanks for bringing out the reality, that hatred and resentment leave no room for reason, facts or common sense.

      5. I agree. There is no one Trump hasn’t abused. John McCain, disabled journalist, little Greta climate change, the list is so voluminous it is staggering. I’d be curious to know where you get your news? What sources? And no Trump supporter ever takes me up on this but may I list 10 things Trump has said in last 2 weeks alone and you simply respond 1-10, YES I BELIEVE or NO I DO NOT BELIEVE

      6. Agreed, the hatred and resentment in the GOP is blinding them to their duties outlined in the Constitution and is using its’ plurality in the Senate to block witnesses that can possibly provide either inculpatory or exculpatory testimony. The majority of Americans (~70%) are in favor of allowing witnesses and ALL evidence relating to the Impeachment. After all, it’s not often that a trial is held with no new evidence or witnesses allowed. It’s clear that this administration is withholding evidence, trump admitted it is true publicly today. Why withhold evidence if you’re innocent?

      7. John, I’m curious as to what evidence you are privy to that the rest of the world is not. I understand that fox has been repeating the mantra of “investigate the Bidens”, but there has been zero information that there has been any crime committed. Additionally, can you provide specifics regarding past Democratic Party Presidents withholding Congressionally-appropriated military funding in lieu of a nation-state publicly promising to announce an investigation into the President’s political rivals and then obstructing a House investigation into such activities? Thanks!

      8. John, I’m curious as to what evidence you are privy to that the rest of the world is not. I understand that fox has been repeating the mantra of “investigate the Bidens”, but there has been zero information that there has been any crime committed. Additionally, can you provide specifics regarding past Democratic Party Presidents withholding Congressionally-appropriated military funding in lieu of a nation-state publicly promising to announce an investigation into the President’s political rivals and then obstructing a House investigation into such activities? Thanks!

      1. The Transcript alone starkly proves guilt. Then the House witnesses paints picture of guilt. Proof? Clear as nose in your face. Only chance Trump has to clear somehow miraculously himself is through witnesses and documents that he won’t provide??? What areis any intelligent, objective person missing???

  2. Now that the GOP Senators had to take the actual oath, it will be interesting to see if the solemn seriousness of the meaning of that oath they swore to is enough to make them question their integrity. I have no faith it will…..in most….but….maybe….just maybe a few of them might actually look themselves in the mirror and say “what the heck am I doing (allowing) here.” Judgement day historically, on their reputation and personal honor, is here.

  3. The only time that I remember that Chuck Schumer was absolutely right, Feb 12 1999.
    “I expect history will show that we’ve lowered the bar on impeachment so much, we have broken the seal on this extreme penalty so cavalierly, that it will be used as a routine tool to fight political battles,” and, “My fear is that when a Republican wins the White House, Democrats will demand payback.”‘

    That’s is exactly what happened.

    Henceforth, Presidents will be impeached for jaywalking, or for thinking about jaywalking. or if someone heard from someone else that he was considering jaywalking. Well said, Chuckie-boy.
    The most dangerous scenario will occur when one party controls both houses by a significant majority.

    Elections will become meaningless, and we will become a one party country – like CT.

    1. One party will soon be controlling and I think for an extended period of time. Reason is once the old generation above me (I’m 59) dies, Dems will be in. Young people, for the most part, despise today’s Republicans on a national level. That, and the racism and meaness and lying and deception. And it’s a shame, as we need balance.
      Are you comparing Trump’s treasonous behavior to jaywalking?. Or even sex with an intern, then lying about it?(Clinton)

  4. This impeachment is a disgrace and the dems will pay at the polls. Murphy & Blumenthal, as usual seem unable to comprehend how our country works, so caught up in the circus and coup that has gone on since the President was Inaugurated. 16 minutes into his term, the impeachment began. The time to call witnesses was in the House. Hard to believe they do not know that. They are hoping the American people do not. Alan Dershowitz a dem and good friend to Bill & Hillary, who voted for Hillary, will shred their illegal and dangerous latest attempt to remove this President. Our Constitution is an inconvenient obstacle to dems but not to patriotic Americans. Pelosi has forever damaged our Republic and future President’s ability to do their job for the American people. Something that has totally escaped the dems in the last 3 years, as they have gone from one attempt to another to remove this President. Each and every attempt has blown up in their faces. Impeachment will as well.

    1. The House did call witnesses that trump wouldn’t let testify. Hard to believe you don’t know that.

  5. Trial started today. What a farce. Cowards. Afraid to call witnesses. That’s fine. Trump will be voted out. 60 million voted for him and 71 million against him in 2016. Republicans have played this all wrong. What a shame. We need the party and it’s going to lose it. White House will go Dem this next election. And Senate will in election after that. And the House will always stay Dem now
    I guarantee it. Trump and Repub Congress and senators are so unlikable. Older generation die off. Women, minority populations, young folks….they despise Trump and Repub politicians in volume. And Trump 60 million voters I’m predicting 10 million won’t vote for him again. The Base, I read somewhere, half of them never even read the Transcript. They are simply blind to facts. Amazing.

  6. The Inquiry in the House is similar to an indictment hearing. Evidence is presented to allow the court (the House) to decide if charges (Articles of Impeachment) are warranted. If the charges are brought, a trial is scheduled (the Articles are presented to the Senate). It should be noted that in the US, the vast majority of charges are settled via plea bargaining and don’t make it to trial. Since a plea bargain is not a viable option in the case of Impeachment, the trial should commence with the presentation of evidence and witnesses proving innocence or guilt. It should be noted that over 70% of Americans favor a fair trial with witnesses and evidence allowed.

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