The legal team for the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is trying to develop a strategy to counter a possible subpoena for public testimony, in the likely event the Senate conducts an impeachment trial, CNN reported on Wednesday.
The whistleblower’s complaint pertained to a phone call made by President Trump on July 25, during which Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate corruption allegations against political rival Joe Biden. House Democrats have since launched the impeachment inquiry due to suspicions Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate Biden.
Senators could subpoena the whistleblower to publicly testify in an impeachment trial. President Trump and allies have repeatedly urged the whistleblower to come forward publicly, however he or she has only offered to answer written questions from Republicans.
The whistleblower’s legal team is looking into what case it can make to prevent him or her from testifying, and is conducting research into historical precedent to build an argument.
However, it is still not clear what form the expected trial will take. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested a scenario in which no trial even occurs, although he has not yet made a decision on the matter.
“The House managers would come over and make their argument. The President’s lawyers would then respond. And at that point, the Senate has two choices: It could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. “Or it could decide — and again, 51 senators could make that decision — that they’ve heard enough and believe they know what would happen and could move on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us from the House.”
Meanwhile, several moderate Democrats from swing districts are worried an impeachment vote will put them at a disadvantage in the 2020 elections. Some have raised the idea of censuring Trump over his actions regarding Ukraine instead of impeaching him, but the idea does not have broad support in the House.