‘Is this a fair trial?’ Dems say Trump can’t be exonerated without witnesses

By: - January 31, 2020 5:06 pm

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at a United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement celebration with American workers Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, at Dana Incorporated in Warren, Mich. | Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr Public Domain

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Democrats made an impassioned plea Friday afternoon for senators to allow for witness testimony in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but the outcome appeared all but certain. 

Republican lawmakers were expected to vote later Friday against allowing for witnesses and additional documents. 

Two Republican U.S. senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, said they planned to join Democrats in voting in favor of additional witnesses. But it appeared unlikely that Democrats could muster the needed 51-vote majority needed to extend the impeachment trial, with U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) as no votes. 


It remained unclear Friday afternoon when the final U.S. Senate vote on whether to remove Trump would occur, but Trump’s acquittal appeared imminent after some Senate Republicans who appeared to be considering voting for witnesses said they would not do so. 

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.) left the GOP last year after he came out for Trump’s impeachment.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash at Common Ground Coffee in Grand Rapids | Nick Manes

“As more damaging facts come out, senators who vote against calling witnesses will have to explain why they refused to consider all available evidence when the case was before them,” Amash wrote on Twitter Friday.

Ahead of the expected witness vote on Friday, House impeachment manager U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) cautioned senators against voting to block additional testimony. 

“The evidence confirms that if left in office, President Trump will continue to harm our — America’s — national security,” she said. “He will continue to seek to corrupt the upcoming election, and he will undermine — he will undermine our democracy, all to further his own personal gain. But this is a fundamental question that must be addressed: is this a fair trial? Without the ability to call witnesses and produce documents, the answer is clearly and unequivocally no.” 

Democrats broadly sought to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Senate trial ahead of the expected votes against witness testimony and in favor of acquittal. 


U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), another impeachment manager, said Trump sought a complete and total exoneration. 

“Whatever you say about this trial, there cannot be an exoneration without hearing from those witnesses, because an acquittal on an incomplete record after a trial lacking witnesses and evidence will be no exoneration. It will be no vindication. Not for the president, not for this chamber, and not for the American people,” she said. 

Advance Editor Susan J. Demas contributed to this story.

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Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.