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Senate Republicans Block Schumer’s Attempt to Subpoena White House Witnesses, Docs

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol, December 17, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

After Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) proposed an amendment Tuesday to the rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial in order to subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House, it failed in a party-line vote.

All 53 Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate voted against Schumer’s amendment, which asked for any records created by former national-security adviser John Bolton, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Mulvaney aide Robert Blair regarding the White House’s dealings with Ukraine.

The current rules proposed by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) mirror those of President Bill Clinton’s trial, with a vote to call witnesses occurring only after hearing opening arguments. On Tuesday, McConnell submitted a last-minute change to increase the length of opening arguments from two days to three, as well as to include evidence from the House.

“We’re very glad they moved to three days instead of two so we won’t be hearing arguments at two in the morning, it’s good that they admitted evidence, but the real test will be witnesses and documents,” Schumer said in an impromptu statement to reporters following the vote. “Will our Republican senators put pressure on McConnell so that we really have witnesses and documents?”

It still looks unlikely that Republicans, who have been united in planning a vote for witnesses after opening arguments, will vote for any of Schumer’s amendments before then. Moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine said in a statement Tuesday that she would “vote to table any attempts by either side to subpoena documents or witnesses before that stage in the trial.”

Following the defeat of his amendment, Schumer proposed another amendment to subpoena State Department witnesses and documents, which is also expected to fail in a party-line vote.

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