With Bennet And Gardner Back To Work, What’s Next For Impeachment In The Senate?

Michael Bennet
Patrick Semansky/AP
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., makes a phone call off the Senate floor, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

As senators return to Washington, D.C. after two weeks away, it’s still unclear on when an impeachment trial for President Donald Trump would begin.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continue to spar over whether witnesses should be called in any Senate trial. McConnell argues that should be decided after opening arguments, senator questions and other motions, as happened during the Clinton impeachment trial.

But Schumer counters, if anything, during the two-week break more questions have been raised about the hold up of military aid Ukraine.

He also said that the Clinton trial is not a good comparison because the witnesses had already testified in the House. The witnesses and the documents the Democratic leader seeks were not available during the House impeachment inquiry.

Courtney Gidner, a spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bennet, said that Colorado’s senior senator “strongly believes that the American people deserve to know all of the facts.” 

Bennet is also a Democratic candidate for president but has agreed with the other 2020 hopefuls that an impeachment trial comes before campaigning.

“The recent reporting and evidence that has come to light even after the House voted to impeach only reinforces Michael’s concerns that the Senate needs to hear from witnesses and have access to all relevant documents,” Gidner said.

The witnesses Bennet and other Democrats want to hear from includes former National Security John Bolton, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and budget official Michael Duffey. None testified in the House of Representatives during the impeachment inquiry on why military aid to Ukraine was held up.

McConnell has criticized the process in the House as “the most unfair in modern history” and “slapdash.”  

The Kentucky Republican does face some push back, including from Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, over his comments that he’s coordinating with the White House on the trial.

Bennet spokesperson Gidner said, “Taking cues from the White House, which has defied subpoenas and is intent on sweeping this under the rug, shows that Leader McConnell is covering up for the White House.”

CPR News reached out multiple times to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s office but received no comment. After the impeachment vote, a Gardner spokesperson said the House inquiry was “a total circus,” but that Sen. Gardner is confident, unlike the House, the process in the Senate will be “bipartisan and fair.”