Democratic Senator Planning Last Ditch Effort to Go Around McConnell on Witnesses

Sen. Chris Van Hollen D-Md., speaks to a group of immigration rights advocates, during the rally against President-elect Donald Trump immigration policies, at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Sen. Chris Van Hollen D-Md., speaks to a group of immigration rights advocates, during the rally against President-elect Donald Trump immigration policies, at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

As we reported here and here, it looks like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) likely has the votes to block calling new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial

That has Democrats scrambling to figure out how to get around that and continue this ridiculous exercise.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is now trying to do an end run around McConnell. He’s announced he plans to make a motion to have Chief Justice John Roberts decide on witnesses.

From Townhall:

“A fair trial includes documents and witnesses. And in a fair trial the judge determines what evidence is admitted. My motion ensures the Chief Justice will serve the same role as a judge in any trial across our country – to allow the Senate access to the facts they need to get to the truth,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “My motion requires the Chief Justice to subpoena witnesses and documents if he determines they are likely to provide evidence relevant to the articles of impeachment. It would also require the Chief Justice to rule on any executive privilege – to prevent efforts by the Administration to stonewall and delay access to the facts.”

“This motion is consistent with Senate rules and could pass with a majority vote, and would preserve the right of the Senate to overrule the Chief Justice if the majority disagrees,” Van Hollen said.

“No Republican can question the fairness of this approach – the Chief Justice oversees the highest court in our land and was nominated by a Republican President,” the senator said in his statement. “And, given his authority to rule on questions of privilege, they should not fear a drawn-out process. I urge my colleagues to seek out truth and the facts and to vote in support of my motion. Anything else constitutes an effort to hide the truth.”

How about no?

Basic problem in all this? There’s no evidence that a quid pro quo ever happened, that Trump ever communicated this to the Ukrainians. The transcript, the witnesses and the Ukrainians all support Trump’s position that it didn’t So how many witnesses and how long would we have to go to try to find someone to ameliorate the deficiency in the House Democrats’ case? Plus, it isn’t incumbent upon the Senate to do so. The Senate’s job is to decide on the case the House has presented. Voting “yes” on witnesses is a the door Democrats want opened to weeks if not months of fishing around for things, all the while using it to attack the GOP and the president. With the added bonus to the Joe Biden supporters that the senators running against him for the nomination, most notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be locked up in Washington, D.C. on the trial.

If they wanted more witnesses, they should have taken the time to do it right in the House. Instead they rushed impeachment in record time without even any independent counsel charges, without even having charges or an official vote to open the proceedings. It’s more than time this thing gets tossed.

The Senate has control of the proceedings according to the Constitution, it isn’t Roberts’ purview to make that decision.

Now, what will happen if Van Hollen does this? In all likelihood, if indeed McConnell has the votes, it would be voted down. If it isn’t and Roberts decides he has the right to rule on it, the Senate could overrule it, which they would likely do. The point would seem to be to make the Republicans look bad and hope to influence a vote or two of the GOP along the way. So Democrats would likely lose but it’s really the only effort they have left if McConnell has the votes and it can delay things just a little longer.