House impeachment manager to Trump: If Ukraine call was ‘perfect’ then ‘call the witnesses’

Author: Devan Cole, CNN
Published: Updated:
FILE: President Donald Trump hangs up the phone after talking with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Washington. Trump is announcing a trade “understanding” with Mexico that could lead to an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump made the announcement Monday in the Oval Office, with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joining by speakerphone. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

House impeachment manager Jason Crow on Sunday argued that witnesses should be called in President Donald Trump’s upcoming Senate trial that kicks off in earnest on Tuesday.

“My immediate response (to Trump’s legal team’s formal response to the Senate’s summons of him) is let’s call the witnesses then. He has said that his call was a perfect call, he has said that he has done nothing wrong, so let’s have the people that are in the best position to confirm that come in and testify before the US Senate. It’s what over 70% of the American people are asking for,” the Colorado Democrat told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “State of the Union.”

Trump has boasted of his “perfect” call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that, along with a whistleblower complaint, sparked the House impeachment inquiry into his conduct with Ukraine. Evidence in the inquiry, however, has gone far beyond the call between the two leaders and prompted the House to impeach Trump, charging the President with abuse of power and obstruction of congress.

“The President deserves a fair trial,” Crow added Sunday. “The American people deserve a fair trial, so let’s have that fair trial.”

Crow’s comments come a day after Trump’s legal team filed its formal response to the Senate summons, calling the two articles of impeachment “constitutionally invalid” and an attack on Americans. The summons response argued both substantively, against the charges in the articles, and procedurally, against the House’s impeachment inquiry.

The question of whether to call witnesses in the trial has divided Senate Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have pushed to call four witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. They’ve also pointed to recently released documents provided to the House by indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas as evidence that the trial should include witnesses and additional documents.

On Tuesday, the Senate will pass a resolution outlining the rules of the impeachment trial, which is expected to be approved only with Republican votes. Though the text of the resolution hasn’t been released, it’s expected to punt the question of calling witnesses until after opening arguments and senators’ questions, while including an opportunity to vote on whether the Senate should have witnesses.

Crow said Sunday that he and the six other impeachment managers “are meeting and talking regularly with our team, considering who are the best witnesses to bring (their) case,” and that “all of the relevant witnesses are on the table.”

Asked by Keilar if Democrats could use documents from Parnas in the trial without having him testify, Crow said it’s “a possibility,” but that his team will be assessing both options.

Last weekend, Parnas provided the House Intelligence Committee with a trove of materials, some of which the committee released publicly ahead of the Senate trial.

Among those materials are text messages he exchanged with Giuliani, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes’ aide Derek Harvey and Robert Hyde, a Connecticut congressional candidate whose texts suggests he may have been involved in an effort to surveil former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Hyde has denied there was actual surveillance of Yovanovitch, who was a key witness in the impeachment inquiry.

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