Senate Republicans Should Have Voted For Calling Witnesses

Brendan Donoghue

I am a registered Republican. I will vote for President Trump in November, and I believe that the Republican Senate made a mistake. After a narrow 51-49 vote in which Republican Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted in favor of calling additional witnesses, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) proved to be the final two votes needed for Republicans to block additional witness testimony in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. With the final vote set for Wednesday, Feb. 5 to determine whether President Trump will be acquitted or removed from office (all signs point to an acquittal), I fear that the Republican-led Senate made a mistake in refusing to call additional witnesses. 

None of this is to suggest that I find the Articles of Impeachment against President Trump to be a pressing or relevant issue. I think the entire Ukraine issue is merely the latest in a long line of attempts by Democrats to go after the president. The Russian Collusion scandal and Robert Mueller report did not lead to impeachment. Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen? Nope. Multiple House Impeachment managers supported impeachment before they knew anything about Ukraine and President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Nineteen minutes after President Trump took the Oath of Office, The Washington Post ran a piece titled “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump had Begun,” which highlighted the launch of Democrats have quite literally been attempting to impeach the president since his inauguration day, so forgive me if I do not take the supposed “solemnity” of this impeachment all that seriously. It is an act of bad faith, and it is the result of the unfortunate nature of our current political climate.

With this in mind, the Republicans still made a mistake. They might recognize this impeachment for the political theatre that it is, but by not calling additional witnesses they have made themselves more vulnerable. From now until the election, the Democratic attack will be that Republican Senators were complicit in an attempt to cover up an impeachable offense by the president. Had they allowed witnesses like John Bolton to testify, they would have also been able to call Hunter Biden or Christopher Heinz (the son in law of former Secretary of State John Kerry), who cut his business ties with Biden over his involvement in the Ukranian energy company Burisma. Calling Bolton would have allowed the Republican Senators to show transparency, while calling Biden and Heinz would have allowed them to make the case that President Trump had legitimate reason to be concerned about Biden’s involvement in Ukraine and potential corruption. 

My concern is that by opting for a fast resolution to the impeachment trial, Republican Senators have opened themselves up to a worse fate on the ballot in November. I want the president to be re-elected, but that will mean very little if the Democrats win back the Senate and keep the House of Representatives — not to mention if both the White House and Senate flip to Democratic control. Republican Senators took a risk, and they will have an uphill battle controlling the narrative, as the media and Democratic establishment will spare no expense to label their decision a “cover-up.”