WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined CNN’s Erin Burnett to discuss the impeachment inquiry.

“[It is] very clear that this was not just one phone call from President Trump to President Zelensky. This was an organized, coordinated campaign to serve the domestic political benefits of President Trump against his strongest domestic political opponent, former Vice President Biden. Something that was, as Dr. Fiona Hill put it, a domestic errand that put our national security at risk,” said Senator Coons

“[T]hat’s what I hope my Republican colleagues will be reflecting on over this Thanksgiving break is how, in our nation’s history, back in 1974, it was Republican senators, like Howard Baker of Tennessee, who put country over party and having heard the kind of evidence against President Nixon, that I think has now been presented against President Trump, went to him and said, ‘You really should rethink whether you can survive a trial in the Senate.’”

Video and audio available here

Excerpts from the interview:

Have you talked to any of your Republican Senate colleagues today? What have they told you?

Senator Coons: I have a number of friends in the Republican caucus in the Senate and when I try to bring up the subject of the testimony of this week, the striking developments in the House, all of them have either changed the subject or simply said they’d really rather not talk about it. It is a very difficult, sensitive subject, and one where, frankly, it has been quite difficult to get anyone to concede that the president’s defense stands in tatters after this week’s testimony in the House. 

Chairman Schiff compared Trump to Nixon in his closing remarks saying, “The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump, it’s the difference between that Congress and this one…Where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty?” Do you think those people exist?

Senator Coons: Well, that’s what I hope my Republican colleagues will be reflecting on over this Thanksgiving break is how, in our nation’s history, back in 1974, it was Republican senators, like Howard Baker of Tennessee, who put country over party and having heard the kind of evidence against President Nixon, that I think has now been presented against President Trump, went to him and said, “You really should rethink whether you can survive a trial in the Senate.” I don’t see any movement like that among my Republican colleagues now. It is entirely possible they are having private conversations given the really devastating testimony this week in the House. But there’s nothing I’ve heard that suggests that sort of a change in heart or spirit in the other caucus this week. 

Should the House try to get those who have not yet spoken to testify, or do you think it’s time for them to drop the articles of impeachment, vote, send it to you all for you all to possibly have those interviews?

Senator Coons: I think they should make every effort possible to demand testimony from a number of the most senior figures in the Trump administration who have been directly implicated. Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony yesterday was striking, was very clear that this was not just one phone call from President Trump to President Zelensky. This was an organized, coordinated campaign to serve the domestic political benefits of President Trump against his strongest domestic political opponent, former Vice President Biden. Something that was, as Dr. Fiona Hill put it, a domestic errand that put our national security at risk. I do think that they should make every effort to secure that testimony. But if they don’t succeed, they need to proceed.

Even if this takes us into the New Year?

Senator Coons: No, I think that time has virtually run out. They should make one more serious effort, but it’s clear the president and his senior advisors, so far, have blocked all testimony by those who were in the room, other than Gordon Sondland, and, frankly, they should give them one more chance, and move on.

Would Senate Democrats be able to stop Republicans from calling witnesses that Chairman Schiff blocked, like Hunter Biden?

Senator Coons: It’s entirely possible that rules for the conduct of the trial in the Senate will be passed by a bare majority. I hope not. Ultimately, during the Clinton impeachment, Republicans and Democrats were able to come to an agreement about witnesses and where and how they testified and so forth. I do think it would be a complete farce to bring Hunter Biden in front of the Senate. The theory under which that’s been advanced has been dismissed and disproven by every journalistic outlet that’s investigated it that’s serious. And that’s just another conspiracy theory of the sort that Dr. Fiona Hill, today, was dismissing in her testimony. So, I hope they won’t come to that, but it is entirely possible.