Rand Paul threatens to hurt GOP senators who vote for witnesses at Trump's trial
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) vowed to hurt his fellow Senate Republicans should they vote to allow witnesses at the impending impeachment trial of Donald Trump. And he warned that by forcing uncomfortable votes, he could cost them reelection.
In an Wednesday interview with Politico, Paul said that if the Senate votes to hear witness testimony he will force votes on polarizing witnesses requested by Donald Trump. Trump has suggested calling the confidential whistleblower along with former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden as as witnesses.
"If you vote against Hunter Biden, you're voting to lose your election, basically. Seriously. That's what it is," Paul said. "If you don't want to vote and you think you're going to have to vote against Hunter Biden, you should just vote against witnesses, period."
The comments were a direct threat to colleagues like Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), who have indicated an openness to hearing from relevant fact witnesses, as well as a handful of other senators who are still mulling the idea.
With every member of the Democratic caucus expected to back a comprehensive trial with witnesses, it would take just four Republican votes to overrule Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has fought against including testimony in the trial.
Collins told Politico she agrees that "both sides should have an opportunity" to call witnesses and claimed the political ramifications of the process are not her focus. "My focus is to be fair. And to have a dignified trial," she claimed. Though Collins said Wednesday she did not think new evidence from indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, which could be potentially damaging to Trump, should be allowed in the trial.
Murkowski and Romney did not immediately respond to inquiries about Paul's threat.
The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction. It appointed House impeachment managers on Wednesday to prosecute the case before the Senate and then transmitted the articles of impeachment, leaving Trump's fate in the hands of the 100 senators.
McConnell (R-KY) has said that the House managers calling witnesses would be a "fishing" expedition. "If the existing case is strong, there's no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation. If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place," McConnell said on Tuesday.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who vigorously pushed for witnesses as a House manager in the 1999 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, said Wednesday that he hopes "nobody will be called as a witness" in Trump's trial and that wants to "end this crap as quickly as possible."
Several other Senate Republicans made it clear on Wednesday that they had no intention of keeping their solemn oath to "do impartial justice" in the impeachment trial. McConnell has openly coordinated with Trump and the White House and has called the impeachment process "the kind of anti-democratic recall measure that the founding fathers explicitly, explicitly did not want." McConnell voted to convict and remove Bill Clinton for both alleged perjury and obstruction in 1999.
The Senate is expected to swear in Chief Justice John Roberts to preside over the trial on Thursday and the trial will likely begin next week. A decision on witnesses will likely come after the cases are presented by the House managers and Trump's defense team. Under the Constitution, Trump will be removed if two-thirds of the senators present vote to find him guilty.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. Attribution: Josh Israel.