Senate rejects amendment to impeachment trial seeking witnesses, documents

The Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to table an amendment proposed by Democrats seeking to subpoena additional documents and witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial — killing the effort at least for now.

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, would have compelled the Senate to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton and a host of other administration figures linked to the president’s call for Ukraine to announce investigations, went down on a party line vote of 53 to 47.

The amendment sought records of documents, communications, notes, phone conversations and meetings from the White House, the National Security Council and other individuals who played a role in the Ukraine matter that led to Trump’s impeachment by the House.

“The witnesses I’ve requested have gotten a lot of attention — and rightfully so,” Schumer said.

“The documents are of equal importance. People should understand that the documents can shed as much light on why the [military] aid was cut off, who did it, and how it evolved, as the witnesses. And we feel very strongly that we need documents and that’s why it’s our first call.”

Attorney Patrick Philbin, part of Trump’s defense team, argued that the House should have gathered the evidence before voting Dec. 18 to impeach the president.

“It is not the role of the Senate to be doing an investigation and to be doing discovery in a matter like the impeachment of the president of the United States,” Philbin said.

“If the house has not done the investigation and cannot support its case, then it is not the time that once it arrives here to start doing all of that work. That is something that is the house’s role.“

Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the top House impeachment managers, argued in response that Trump had blocked witnesses from testifying and refused to turn over documents.

And he bristled at Philbin’s assertion that the House was not ready to proceed.

“We are ready. The House calls John Bolton. The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney. Let’s get this trial started, shall we? We are ready to present our case. We are ready to call our witnesses. The question is, will you let us? That is the question,” Schiff said moments before the vote.

Democrats would have needed four GOP senators to reach the 51-vote threshold needed to get the information they wanted.

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

Democrats immediately proposed a second amendment seeking other documents, including calls between the White House and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and information from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the State Department.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would move to table Schumer’s second amendment.

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