Charles Schumer once again called key Trump administration officials to be witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial following the New York Times report that detailed the White House’s efforts to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, The Hill reported.
“Simply put, in our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game-changer,” Schumer said at a press conference just a day after the Times published an explosive story offering new details about some White House officials’ actions in blocking Ukrainian military aid.
The report showed the role officials such as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney played after Trump directed his administration to withhold the aid. Among other things, it showed that Mulvaney and Robert Blair, assistant to the President and senior adviser to Mulvaney, were aware that the move would prompt a backlash from Congress.
“This new story shows all four witnesses we Senate Democrats have requested were intimately involved and had direct knowledge of President Trump’s decision to cut off aid in order to benefit himself,” Schumer said.
“And when you combine these new revelations with the explosive emails from Michael Duffey released last weekend, it makes the strongest case yet for a Senate trial to include the witnesses and documents we have requested,” he added, referencing newly disclosed emails that showed Duffey, an official at the Office of Management and Budget, told the Pentagon to withhold Ukrainian military aid just hours after Trump’s infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The House earlier this month voted to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Ahead of the vote, Schumer wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and called for Mulvaney, Bolton, Duffey and Blair to testify as witnesses during a trial.
But McConnell said that the trial should not include witnesses and has argued that lawmakers have “heard enough” amid the impeachment proceedings. Trump said in mid-December that McConnell could decide on whether there would be witnesses in the upper chamber trial.
Robert Driscoll, a lawyer for Mulvaney, told the Times that the acting chief of staff would consider a request to testify in consultation with the White House.
“I hope every Republican senator should read this story and explain why they would oppose our reasonable request for witnesses and documents in the Senate trial,” Schumer said. “This story makes the choice even clearer: Will the Senate hold a fair trial, or will it enable a cover-up?”