Political News

Murkowski wants to hear from House managers and Trump's lawyers before deciding on witnesses in Senate trial

Posted January 19, 2020 12:48 p.m. EST

— Republican Sen. Lisa Murkwoski said Saturday that she wants to hear House Democrats' case against Donald Trump and from the President's lawyers before she decides whether she'll support having additional witnesses at his upcoming Senate trial.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," Murkwoski said, according to CNN affiliate KTUU. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

The question of whether to call witnesses in the trial has divided Senate Democrats and Republicans, and the comments from Murkwoski, a moderate who represents Alaska, are notable because a simple majority is needed to determine the rules of the Senate trial. Her vote could be critical to Democrats gaining enough support to approve rules that include the appearance of additional witnesses.

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.

In comments to reporters from Alaska, Murkwoski said it was imperative the proceedings be seen as a fair trial and that she is "doing everything that I can to make sure that they are fair."

"And so I don't want this proceeding to be a circus," she said. "I don't want it to be viewed as a mockery or a kangaroo court."

Murkwoski also weighed in on the new evidence from Parnas, saying she assumes the seven House managers "would provide reference to that" when they make their case to the Senate.

Among the trove of information handed over by Parnas to the House Intelligence Committee 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.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.