Minnesota’s two Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both voted this afternoon to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Trump, but Republicans blocked the move by a vote of 51-to-49. House prosecutors argued the result of the trial is not valid without witnesses. Lead impeachment manager, California Congressman Adam Schiff said, “Rob this country of a fair trial and there can be no representation that the verdict has any meaning. How could it?” The president’s outside counsel, Jay Sekulow responded, “This idea that they haven’t had witnesses, that’s the smokescreen. You’ve heard from a lot of witnesses [at the House impeachment hearings]…. The problem with their position is, even with all of those witnesses, it doesn’t prove up an impeachable offense.”
Hamline University analyst David Schultz says lack of witnesses brings the impeachment trial’s legitimacy into question. “This is the first time in American history that the Senate has sat in trial and not allowed for witnesses to testify,” he says. “This puts it dramatically out-of-character with anything we’ve seen in past precedent.” But Schultz says it’s unclear whether Democrats’ allegations of a “sham trial” would influence enough undecided voters to tip the electoral balance away from the president in November.
The impeachment trial pulled Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and several Democratic rivals off the presidential campaign trail in Iowa just before Monday’s nation-leading caucuses. But Klobuchar told C-N-N Friday night, “I’ve gotta believe the people in Iowa and beyond understand that I have a constitutional duty to do my job and that they see it as a positive, because it shows that I’m in the arena pushing for the truth.”