GOP senators call House case against Trump repetitive and nothing 'new'
Posted January 23, 2020 7:01 p.m. EST
CNN — House Democrats haven't yet finished outlining their case to remove President Donald Trump from office, but many Senate Republicans are dismissing the arguments as nothing "new," while others are saying the impeachment managers have become repetitive in their presentation or that they don't believe their arguments have changed any minds so far.
"So far as it strikes me is very repetitious," Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Thursday, adding that the House case "doesn't seem like it's focused on persuading the members of the Senate, but more giving people their moment in the sun to shine."
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Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a key GOP vote in the trial, gave a brief assessment of the House managers' first day presentation when she told reporters on Thursday morning, "It was just kind of the evidence and the chronology and the facts. It was long. It was pretty thorough." She added, though, "there was certainly a lot of repetition."
Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, also said Thursday afternoon that the House managers' case has been very thorough and said he has "really paid close attention" throughout the proceedings.
But he said, "I don't think there's going to be any ground shift" when asked about the Democrats' arguments. "I don't think that's going to happen. I don't even think it would. I don't think there's more information out there," he said.
After the GOP party lunch on Thursday, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said of the House manager's case, "it's not really changing our opinion, we're just hearing that same message," referring to how Republicans feel about the arguments so far.
"But again (Democrats) stated numerous times in their brief they had overwhelming evidence it would be so clear to everyone -- I haven't seen that yet and I've heard the same message over and over and over," she said.
Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told reporters on Wednesday evening, "I didn't hear anything new -- at all," following hours of House Democrats making their case.
"It still seems to me that this was an effort by the Democrats in a very partisan way to bring a case against President Trump because they weren't happy with the results of the 2016 election," Barrasso said.
Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said that he thinks "every hour that goes by where they don't say something new, they make it easier for people on the bubble to vote against their position."
The House impeachment managers are now on their second day of arguments and are expected to continue into a third day on Friday. They have a total of 24 hours spread over three days to make their case and then the President's defense team will have the same amount of time, if they choose to use it all, to make their own case in defense of the President.
One of the arguments that House Democrats have been making is that the Senate should issue subpoenas for new documents and witnesses during the trial.
After complaining that "there is just not new here and the record is incomplete," Sen. Roy Blunt was asked by CNN if subpoenaing documents and witnesses might change that. In response, he questioned whether witnesses would "change the result."
"The other question on witnesses is would the witness change the result," he said. "Not would the witness tell us something we might not know because we just like to know. But would the witness change the result and is it worth continuing to reward the bad performance of the House to stretch this out for not change in outcome."
One Republican senator even went so far as to say on Thursday that he has already made up his mind on the case.
Asked by CNN if he's made up his mind over whether to acquit Trump, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina responded, "yes," in the midst of a broader discussion with reporters during which he emphasized that there's been absolutely nothing new presented by the House managers.
"The clips (video evidence) have been played so many times it reminds me of ... hits of the 80s, and you hear it again and again and again and again," he said. "I can almost recite the testimony, which has been roughly the same."
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York pushed back against the argument that the House Democratic presentation in the trial isn't presenting new information, saying that it "rings very, very hollow."
"This argument that (Republicans) heard nothing new when they vote against new evidence repeatedly, rings very, very hollow. If my Republican colleagues are interested in some new evidence on top of the very substantial House record, there's a very simple answer: vote with Democrats, call relevant witnesses and documents," Schumer said.
Some Republican senators are working hard to keep their cards close to their vest, however.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, for instance, continues to take it all in without offering up instant reaction.
"I'm really not going to comment on evidence or the process until the trial is completed," Romney told reporters on Thursday when asked about the possibility of the president invoking executive privilege over witnesses.