Nadler: Im­peach­ment oath vi­o­lated

Se­nate GOP says im­par­tial­ity doesn’t ex­tend to pol­i­tics

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Karoun Demirjian and Steven Mufson

WASH­ING­TON — House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jerry Nadler ac­cused Se­nate Repub­li­cans of vi­o­lat­ing their oath to be im­par­tial ju­rors in an im­peach­ment trial, as GOP se­na­tors de­fended their right to work for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ac­quit­tal.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., said last week that he was work­ing in “to­tal co­or­di­na­tion” with the White House — some­thing Nadler, D-N.Y., char­ac­ter­ized Sun­day on ABC’s “This Week” as akin to “the fore­man of the jury say­ing he’s go­ing to work hand-in-glove with the de­fense at­tor­ney.”

“That’s in vi­o­la­tion of the oath that they’re about to take, and it’s a com­plete sub­ver­sion of the con­sti­tu­tional scheme,” Nadler said.

Se­na­tors take an oath to “do im­par­tial jus­tice” at the start of any im­peach­ment trial — but sev­eral Repub­li­can se­na­tors ar­gued that im­par­tial­ity doesn’t cover pol­i­tics.

“I am clearly made up my mind. I’m not try­ing to hide the fact that I have dis­dain for the ac­cu­sa­tions in the process,” Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., said Sun­day on CBS’s “Face the Na­tion.”

Gra­ham called “this whole thing” a “crock” and warned that Democrats were “weaponiz­ing im­peach­ment.”

“I want to end it. I don’t want to le­git­imize it,” he said.

“Se­na­tors are not re­quired, like

ju­rors in a crim­i­nal trial, to be se­questered, not to talk to any­one, not to co­or­di­nate. There’s no pro­hi­bi­tion,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said on “This Week,” call­ing im­peach­ment “in­her­ently a po­lit­i­cal ex­er­cise” and Trump’s im­peach­ment a “par­ti­san show trial.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speak­ing Sun­day on CNN’s “State of the Union,” also ar­gued that there was noth­ing wrong with se­na­tors hav­ing al­ready made up their minds. Call­ing im­peach­ment an ef­fort to “crim­i­nal­ize pol­i­tics,” he noted that “we’re go­ing to hear the ev­i­dence re­peated, but we’re not go­ing to hear any new ev­i­dence.”

Se­nate GOP lead­ers have been telling al­lies they want to limit the trial to a short pro­ceed­ing, omit­ting any wit­nesses from tes­ti­fy­ing. That isn’t sit­ting well with House Demo­cratic lead­ers, who con­tend that se­na­tors should use their trial to se­cure ev­i­dence and tes­ti­mony that the White House pre­vented House in­ves­ti­ga­tors from ac­cess­ing.

“They don’t want the Amer­i­can peo­ple to see the facts,” House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sun­day on ABC, ap­pear­ing along­side Nadler.

“They re­al­ize that what’s been pre­sented in the House is al­ready over­whelm­ing, but that there’s more damn­ing ev­i­dence to be had,” Schiff con­tin­ued. “I hope that the se­na­tors will in­sist on get­ting the doc­u­ments, on hear­ing from other wit­nesses, on mak­ing up their own mind, even if there are some se­na­tors who have de­cided out of their blind al­le­giance to this pres­i­dent that he can do noth­ing wrong.”

Nadler added that se­na­tors should “de­mand the tes­ti­mony” of peo­ple like Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, act­ing White House chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney and former na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton, “who at the pres­i­dent’s in­struc­tion have re­fused to tes­tify.”

There are some Se­nate Repub­li­cans who want to hear from wit­nesses at the trial.

But they aren’t think­ing about Pom­peo, Mul­vaney and Bolton; they’re think­ing about the whistle­blower and Hunter Bi­den.

“You can be sure we’re go­ing to al­low the pres­i­dent to de­fend him­self,” Cruz said, adding: “That means, I be­lieve, if the pres­i­dent wants to call wit­nesses, if the pres­i­dent wants to call Hunter Bi­den or wants to call the whistle­blower, the Se­nate should al­low the pres­i­dent to do so.”

Hunter Bi­den, son of former Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, sat on the board of Ukrainian en­ergy com­pany Burisma for five years and was paid as much as $50,000 a month, de­spite hav­ing no ex­per­tise on the sub­ject mat­ter. As Democrats have made the case that Trump tried to use his of­fice to pres­sure a for­eign leader into an­nounc­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions against a po­lit­i­cal ri­val, sev­eral Repub­li­cans have ral­lied around the coun­ter­charge that Trump was right to be con­cerned about “cor­rup­tion” in­volv­ing the Bi­dens — though it does not ap­pear that Joe Bi­den, who was closely in­volved in Ukraine pol­icy, made any de­ci­sions to ad­van­tage the com­pany.

“I love Joe Bi­den, but none of us are above scru­tiny,” Gra­ham said Sun­day, not­ing there were “le­git­i­mate con­cerns” about Hunter Bi­den’s ac­tiv­ity. But he added that the Se­nate could look at all of those is­sues — as well as what­ever new in­for­ma­tion Trump’s lawyer Rudy Gi­u­liani un­earthed in his lat­est trip to Ukraine — “af­ter im­peach­ment” and should move ahead with­out wit­nesses.

It is not clear whether the Se­nate will be forced to hold sep­a­rate votes on wit­nesses — or if most of the GOP would hold rank in that sit­u­a­tion. It takes 51 se­na­tors to ap­prove a mo­tion. There are 53 Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate, mean­ing the GOP can af­ford to lose no more than two se­na­tors on any mo­tion for McCon­nell to fully con­trol the course of the trial.

SAUL LOEB/GETTY-AFP

House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., ac­cused Se­nate Repub­li­cans of vi­o­lat­ing their oath to be im­par­tial in the im­peach­ment trial.

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