Yes, the Senate Should Call Witnesses

The prevailing opinion of Republican lawmakers and most pundits on the Right is that the Senate impeachment trial should end without calling witnesses. Time to get back to the business of the American people, fair-minded people argue in defense of that view. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), especially, appears ready to move on.

But Democrats, led by their resident rock star, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), have no intention of getting back to any other business than continuing their scorched earth crusade against Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, Schiff hinted at his next move. “There are going to continue to be revelations that members of both sides of the aisle will have to answer a question each time it does,” Schiff told the trapped senators. “We are going to continue to see new evidence come out all the time.”

Schiff claimed the tell-all book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton, set for a March release, will disclose more damaging evidence against the president.

Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, was characteristically blunt about the Democrats’ pre-election strategy. Emanuel explained that an incomplete impeachment trial would not just be used against Trump but is central to the Democrats’ effort to win back the Senate.

“A vote to acquit . . . will force every senator to own Trump’s emboldened rhetoric of being exonerated,” the former Chicago mayor wrote in the Washington Post on Thursday. “Which means they’ll have to defend Trump when the next embarrassing audio recording hits the airwaves, or when another witness surfaces to speak, or when John Bolton’s book comes out, or when internal memos about the ‘drug deal’ come out via the Freedom of Information Act.”

Don’t Let This Crisis Got to Waste 

Which is why I agree with my friend and American Greatness colleague Ned Ryun who—cribbing one of Emanuel’s most famous lines—argued in favor of an extended Senate trial.

“Why let a good crisis go to waste?” Ryun wrote. “This is an opportunity of a generation to cause real pain for Democrats and administrative state actors. Why not take full advantage of the situation?”

Despite disagreement from plenty of smart folks on the Right, compelling more testimony from existing witnesses or adding to the witness list is something Republicans, including the president, should support.

The main reason we should keep grinding down the opposition is that Senate Republicans, after this is over, cannot be trusted to conduct the follow-up necessary to avenge what Schiff and the Democrats have put the country through over the past three years. The Senate’s record of exposing the corrupt, vindictive, and, in some cases, criminal conduct of Democratic lawmakers and their bureaucratic accomplices is one of empty threats and broken promises, as I wrote even before the current impeachment sham began.

There are dozens of examples of how Senate Republicans, unlike their House counterparts, have failed to fulfill their pledge to seek justice and abdicated their duty to uncover the truth. Harsh letters go unanswered, criminal referrals remain ignored, and public hearings that should be a no-brainer are never scheduled.

Lots of tough talk, very little action.

For proof that Senate Republicans, once again, will shirk their responsibility to hold anyone accountable for this impeachment debacle if it ends this week, look no further than comments of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about why he doesn’t support a subpoena for Hunter Biden. “Nobody has done an investigation anywhere near the Mueller investigation against the Bidens,” Graham told reporters last week. “And I think they should. And when this is over, the Congress will do it if we can’t have an outside entity. I think it’s very important to find out what happened.”

Now, anyone who has followed Graham’s recent warnings of reprisal knows this is utter garbage. Does anyone really think Graham will do anything to investigate the Bidens? Recent history suggests there’s not a chance in hell.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee repeatedly has assured us that he will “get to the bottom” of a number of Democratic-manufactured scandals, from Russiagate to the character assassination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And yet not one culprit has been held either publicly or criminally responsible for their treachery.

Last year, as Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation fell apart and proof of the legitimate scandal—the unlawful investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign—became public, Graham made a number of promises. The Senate, he insisted, would look into the corrupted FISA process, the Hillary Clinton email investigation, the origins of the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign, the infamous texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and the activities of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, just to name a few.

Graham tweeted to former FBI Director James Comey that he would “see him soon.”

That was 10 months ago.

The mishandling of the various facets of the Russigate hoax hasn’t been Senate Republicans’ only major fumble, however. In November 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a 414-page report on its probe into the Kavanaugh confirmation travesty. Among its key conclusions: “Committee investigators found no verifiable evidence that supported Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford’s allegations against Justice Kavanaugh. The witnesses that Dr. Ford identified as individuals who could corroborate her allegations failed to do so, and in fact, contradicted her.”

The committee referred four people, including disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti, to the Justice Department for criminal investigation; one year later, in October 2019, committee members sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and the FBI asking for an update on those referrals. No reply from the Justice Department has been issued; the Republican-controlled committee has not held one hearing so the public can learn the alarming findings of its Kavanaugh report, now collecting dust.

Payback Time

This is a chance to let some other Republican senators—Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, or Josh Hawley, perhaps—finally “get to the bottom” of every Democratic hoax since the summer of 2016. It’s also a way for weak-kneed Republicans to make up for their recent cowardice.

Start with Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general who handled the complaint. Atkinson, as I’ve reported, has ties to the corrupt probe into the Trump campaign and the unlawful FISA applications on Carter Page. He also changed an official form to accommodate the “whistleblower.” Schiff refuses to release Atkinson’s closed-door testimony. Depose him again and demand he answer questions out in the open.

Atkinson’s testimony would provide justification for a whole roster of new witnesses, including his ex-boss, Mary McCord, the former head of Barack Obama’s National Security Division who now serves as an advisor to Schiff’s legal team. McCord’s office handled the illicit FISA applications. Have Atkinson and McCord been in cahoots since the summer of 2016 to take down Trump? Did they ever communicate about the “whistleblower” complaint? Have they discussed the impeachment process at all over the past several months?

And what about McCord’s former colleagues, James Comey and Andrew McCabe? Thanks to Horowitz’s report, we know she worked closely with both Trump foes on their phony Russia collusion investigation and the illicit Page FISA warrants. Has she collaborated with either one in her role as an impeachment advisor?

This could—and should—go on. Ukrainegate is an extension of what the Obama Justice Department started before the 2016 presidential election to destroy Trump and features many of the same players. Republicans should keep pulling this thread until we get to the first stitch. As Ned Ryun correctly warned, we may never get this chance again.

If Republicans don’t push this farce to a humiliating conclusion for Democrats, what happens next? Unpunished, Schiff and his cabal will set off on the next destructive and deceptive scheme to take down Trump.

And what consequences will Eric Ciaramella, the alleged “whistleblower,” face for filing a false report and working in tandem with Schiff’s committee? Or Michael Atkinson for changing the official form and refusing to answer lawmakers’ questions? Or Hunter Biden for his ghost payrolling gig with a corrupt company located in a country handled by his vice president daddy?

They’ll go the way of Christine Blasey Ford and James Comey and Andrew McCabe and Adam Schiff: Canonized by the Left as their public reckoning is thwarted by an incompetent Senate GOP. Democrats are depending on Republicans to end the impeachment trial prematurely so they can proceed with their next farce.

McConnell and his caucus should call Schiff’s bluff and, for once, follow through. If they don’t, when the next manufactured crisis monopolizes the news and consumes their attention, Senate Republicans will only have themselves to blame for wasting this unique opportunity.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.

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