Most Americans want witnesses in Trump impeachment trial - poll

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on January 23, 2020 - Duration: 03:08s

Most Americans want witnesses in Trump impeachment trial - poll

A bipartisan majority of Americans want to see new witnesses testify in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling released Wednesday.

Jonah Green reports.

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Most Americans want witnesses in Trump impeachment trial - poll

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP.

ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "If the House cannot call witnesses or introduce documents and evidence, it's not a fair trial.

It's not really a trial at all." The main sticking point in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump has so far been this - do Senators want to hear from witnesses and will they subpoena relevant documents in the case?

So far, Senate Republicans like John Thune have said no.

At least, not yet.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SEN.

JOHN THUNE, SAYING: "I think the record is pretty complete, but we'll listen to the arguments today and tomorrow, the next day and the day after that and then we'll get to that decision presumably next week." During the House impeachment inquiry, the White House directed witnesses not to cooperate with the probe and refused to hand over even a single document in that investigation.

Now that the matter is in the Senate, Democrats are appealing to the Republican majority to subpoena relevant witnesses like former national security advisor John Bolton, or acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) REP JERROLD NADLER, SAYING: "Any Senator who votes to deny a witness, who votes to deny evidence, is voting to cover up the president's crimes and subversion of the Constitution." SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SEN.

CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "If the American people believe this is not a fair trial, which right now they seem to believe because there are no witnesses or documents, acquittal will have zero value to the president or to the Republicans." Some Republicans, like Jim Inhofe, say they've heard enough already.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SEN JIM INHOFE, SAYING: "They had too many witnesses in the House.

They had some 17 witnesses.

Everything possible was covered at that time." Democrats need to peel off only four Republicans to hear from new witnesses, and if they have any leverage over their counterparts in the majority, it's this: Americans wants witnesses to be called.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Wednesday About 72% agree that the trial "should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify," including 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans.

Trump has claimed he wants current and former aides, like John Bolton, to testify, but warned it may pose a national security risk.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "When you have a national security, you could call it presidential prerogative, you could just call it, the way I look at it, I call it national security for national security reasons.

Executive privilege they say." But legal experts tell Reuters Trump's executive privilege claim would be weak, because Bolton's testimony is clearly relevant to the charges before the Senate.

Bolton's own lawyer has said that he was involved in "many relevant meetings and conversations" involving the alleged scheme.

Plus - the Senate's right to evidence is particularly strong when it is considering whether to remove a president.

According to rules set forth by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate is expected to vote on whether to call witnesses after opening arguments and a round of questions from Senators.

In Bill Clinton's impeachment trial , the Senate heard testimony from three witnesses including from Monica Lewinsky who appeared not live on the Senate floor, but by videotape.

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