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New Emails ‘Devastating Blow’ to McConnell’s ‘Push’ for Witnessless Trial, Schumer Says


The contents of emails showing that the President Donald Trump himself ordered the hold on congressionally appropriated military to Ukraine went public on Thursday. It didn’t take long for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to say that the details completely undermined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) efforts to acquit the president at a trial with no witnesses.

In case you missed it, we learned that the Department of Justice repeatedly redacted Pentagon emails expressing concern that the Trump-ordered hold on the congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. The reporting showed: numerous Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials were in the loop and followed the president’s directives to keep the hold in place; OMB officials and lawyers didn’t take Pentagon concerns about the unexplained hold seriously; the DOJ hid those concerns from the public when it released documents to the Center for Public Integrity in December.

Sen. Schumer said on Twitter that such revelations are a “devastating blow to Senator McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested.”

“The American people deserve a fair trial that gets to the truth, not a rigged process that enables a cover-up,” he added.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pumped the brakes on selecting impeachment mangers because she’s waiting on assurances that there will be a fair trial in the Senate. We are still waiting on House Democrats to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Schumer also reacted to today’s news in a letter.

“These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit itself,” he wrote. “This new evidence also raises questions that can only be answered by having the key Trump administration officials–Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Michael Duffey, and Robert Blair–testify under oath in a Senate trial.”

“Importantly, that Mr. Duffey said there was ‘clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold’ only further implicates President Trump and underscores the need for the Senate to subpoena the witnesses and documents we’ve requested at the onset of a trial,” Schumer continued.

McConnell previously rejected Schumer’s proposed witnesses and criticized Schumer for his “eleven-paragraph letter,” which was “delivered by way of the news media” as opposed to a face-to-face meeting.

At the time, McConnell said he still hoped to pursue an in-person conversation with Schumer, and suggested a template similar to that used in the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton. During the Clinton proceedings, the Senate agreed to hear arguments from the prosecution and the defense before voting on whether to call witnesses.

Schumer responded to McConnell’s speech with a floor speech of his own.

“I did not hear a single sentence, a single argument as to why the witnesses I suggested should not give testimony,” Schumer said. “Impeachment trials, like most trials, have witnesses.”

McConnell has already said publicly that he is coordinating closely with the White House and that there’s no chance Trump will be removed from office.

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.