A few minutes ago, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine updated us on the Trump impeachment trial, responding to questions from Virginians.
The first question was about what evidence there is that Trump asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens for political gain. The answer is, basically, that the evidence is overwhelming – including the very much NOT “perfect” July 25 phone call (“the best piece of evidence, because it comes right from the president”); the “admission of Mick Mulvaney right on television”; “other testimony by other administration witnesses”; “the explosive revelation from John Bolton in a forthcoming manuscript that he believes…Trump was directly linking the threat to withhold Congressionally mandated aid that would hurt an ally with the Biden investigation.”
The second question was whether Republicans are listening. Sen. Warner said he spends a lot of time with his Republican colleagues, and according to Warner, they are “uncomfortable” and that “many” of them have “taken that oath seriously.” Sen. Kaine said the “real test of your question…is a vote we’re probably going to have sometime on Friday or Saturday about whether we do witnesses and documents…there’s no court in the land where you don’t have witnesses or documents.”
The third question was “why can’t you call witnesses?” Sen. Kaine said “we tried…the Republicans voted against it…We need some Republicans to honor their oaths to do impartial justice.” Sen. Warner said “all we’re saying is come in, take an oath, swear and then tell the truth…if these guys could come in and *clear* the president…why wouldn’t they come forward, unless they are concerned they might not be able to take that oath and tell that kind of a story.”
The fourth question was “what documents and witnesses do you think would be acceptable?” Sen. Warner basically said there’s a long list – Bolton, Mulvaney, etc. Sen. Kaine said there’s an “absolutely critical fact…why did President Trump withhold the aid from Ukraine?…That’s why witnesses and documents are so important, they answer the toughest questions in the case.”
Question #5 was about what Republicans are saying about the Bolton revelations. Sen. Kaine said there are Republicans like Mitt Romney saying we need to hear from Bolton, and others saying at a minimum we should take a look at the book. Sen. Kaine – “A manuscript is not under oath; John Bolton needs to be under oath.” “The greatest engine for the discovery of truth is cross examination.” Sen. Warner: “I 100% agree…noone has ever questioned John Bolton’s Republican credentials…conservative credentials…he’s been a major conservative figure for 30+ years…amazing that you’ve got some of the supporters of the president even turning on John Bolton.”
Question #6 was on whether they will be impartial, Sen. Warner said he wants to hear all the evidence and have a chance to ask questions before he makes this “extraordinarily serious” decision. Sen. Kaine agreed with Sen. Warner – “an impeachment vote…you’ve got to make three determinations, what are the facts…do the facts, once they’re all out on the table, do they equal the charge abuse of power/obstruction of Congress…if they do equal the charge, is the charge at a high enough level…to warrant removal from office...if the president were a Democrat, would I reach the same conclusion?”