The third day of the historic Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump has concluded. As the day’s proceedings opened, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, accused President Trump of putting his own personal interests above national security and American democracy and charged that Trump is the only president in history to violate his oath of office so flagrantly.
“No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections — prior presidents would be shocked to the core by such conduct and rightly so,” Rep. Nadler, D-N.Y., said in kicking off day two of the House impeachment managers’ opening statements.
“This conduct is not America First,” Nadler said, borrowing Trump’s campaign slogan. “It is Donald Trump first.”
Once Trump was caught pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by seeking investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, he launched an unprecedented effort to stonewall Congress’ inquiry by denying documents and witnesses, Nadler charged.
“It puts even President Nixon to shame,” Nadler said.
As the public case continued before the camera, another political campaign was underway behind the scenes over the issue of calling new witnesses. Democrats are seeking four GOP senators to join them in demanding new evidence in the trial, but Republicans are actively trying to avoid any GOP defections. No new witnesses would mean a speedy trial and a quicker vote to acquit the president.
As the trial moves into its 4th day — the last for the Democrats to make their case – the main goal of Senate GOP leaders is to try to avoid any defections in an anticipated vote next week on whether or not to allow for new witnesses. Leader McConnell remains in close talks with those potential swing voters, according to Republican aides.
Allowing new witnesses would bring a wild-card factor to the trial, lengthen the process and potentially set up a protracted court fight over executive privilege.
The targets are: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mitt Romney of Utah. GOP Senate leaders are reaching out to these four and are desperately trying to keep them in the fold, two GOP aides told Fox News.
As the trial continued into the night, Democrats re-upped their demands for new witnesses and documents to be entered into evidence, charging that the trial would be a “cover-up” without them. They need the help of at least four GOP senators to win the necessary majority vote.
Trump’s legal team says new witnesses aren’t needed but would expect reciprocity if the Senate vote didn’t go their way.
“If the other side were to get witnesses, we would have a series of witnesses, but we are nowhere near that process yet,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said after the close of Thursday’s proceedings.