WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined CNN New Day this morning to discuss the first day of the Senate impeachment trial.
“So, I'll put it this way. In virtual lockstep throughout the entire night, the Republican majority said we don't want to see the documents that are critical to understanding what President Trump did. Whether he did or did not do the things he's charged with. And we don't want to hear from critical witnesses that President Trump has blocked from testifying. It was a pretty striking, pretty grim, frankly, and very long night,” said Senator Coons.
“This isn't opening arguments. This is a trial. A trial where those documents and those witnesses have never been made available. So as a lawyer myself, how are you supposed to make opening arguments when critical witnesses and central documents have been blocked by the President?” said Senator Coons.
Video and audio available here
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Democrats went 0 for 13 yesterday, I believe it was? Didn't win on a single vote. What do you think you got out of that first day?
Sen. Coons: Well, yesterday was a 12-hour day in which the entire Senate sat and fought over what the rules will be that will govern this impeachment trial and whether we're going to get access to any of the documents or witnesses that would be essential to make this a fair trial. Strikingly, on every vote, except one, every single Republican, except one, voted to keep the rules that Mitch McConnell moved forward. And it was only on one minor vote that one Republican voted against the majority. So, I'll put it this way. In virtual lockstep throughout the entire night, the Republican majority said we don't want to see the documents that are critical to understanding what President Trump did. Whether he did or did not do the things he's charged with. And we don't want to hear from critical witnesses that President Trump has blocked from testifying. It was a pretty striking, pretty grim, frankly, and very long night. But I think it was important that we got on the record for history and for the American people who are watching that the Republican majority here is just not interested in seeing the relevant documents or hearing from a few key witnesses.
Q: Do you see -- it doesn't sound like you do -- what chances are there that you will have four Republicans voting with Democrats to hear from witnesses?
Sen. Coons: That's hard to tell. I certainly wasn't encouraged by last night. And there was some mistake in reporting in another news outlet that suggested somehow, I was part of a group that was trying to cut some deal where Ambassador Bolton, former national security adviser, would testify in exchange for the Vice President, Joe Biden, the former Vice President, testifying. I'm not involved in a conversation like that. That would mean trading a relevant witness who should be testifying for a witness who has nothing to do with the charges against the President. In a trial, what is admitted in front of the jury is relevant documents and relevant witness testimony. John Bolton was in the room. He was in the meetings, he was on the email thread. He knows whether the president did or didn't do the things he's accused of. And if President Trump hopes to be exonerated here in the Senate as he keeps saying, he should make a case, like the presidents who have been impeached before him. President Clinton, even President Nixon. He should encourage his top advisers to cooperate and to testify if he hopes to clear his name.