Adam Schiff admitted Tuesday morning that Donald Trump’s defense team should have the right to call witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial along with Democrats being able to call individuals, as well.
‘The House should have the right to call witnesses. The President should have the right to call witnesses, but material witnesses,’ Schiff said during a press conference held just hours before the Senate will begin the impeachment trial.
During his remarks, Schiff was joined at the podium by fellow impeachment managers Jerry Nadler, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Sylvia Garcia.
Schiff, who is heading the Democratic manager team assemble to prosecute the president in the Senate trial, insisted in a clip of an interview that aired Tuesday morning that calling Hunter Biden as a witness would be an ‘illegitimate’ move.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman aid it would only be OK for Trump’s legal team to call witnesses who can ‘provide material information on the charges.’
‘It would not be appropriate for the president to seek to call witnesses merely to try to perpetuate the same smear campaign that was foiled when his plot was discovered,’ Schiff said in an interview with the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell, which will air Tuesday night.
‘Hunter Biden, for example, can’t tell us anything about whether the president withheld military aid, whether he withheld that aid to coerce Ukraine to conduct political investigations or why he wouldn’t meet with the president of Ukraine,’ Schiff continued in the clip of the interview, which played Tuesday morning, just hours before the Senate impeachment trial will commence.
In the pre-recorded interview Schiff was joined by three other Democratic impeachment managers – Representatives Val Demings, Zoe Lofgren and Jason Crow.
‘The only purpose in putting him on their list is they wish to trade material witnesses, like Mr. Bolton and Mulvaney and others, for immaterial ones that will allow them to continue to attack a political opponent,’ Schiff said, naming two witnesses the Democrats intend to call should the Senate allow new testimony in the trial.
‘That’s an illegitimate, abuse of the trial,’ Schiff asserted. ‘The chief justice, who may have an opportunity to rule on the materiality of the witnesses, as well as senators should not permit that kind of abuse.’
Democrats have demanded the Republican-controlled chamber allow witnesses to be called in the trial. But members of the GOP have warned that it’s a two way street – if Democrats get to call their preferred witnesses, the president’s defense team would get to do the same.
Trump has expressed a desire to call former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden to testify in the impeachment trial, claiming they engaged in a conflict of interest and contributed to Ukrainian corruption.
Hunter served on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings – a job he took in 2014 when his father was still serving as President Barack Obama’s No. 2.
Trump insists that Biden removing a prosecutor who was looking into potential corruption regarding Hunter’s position was a conflict of order the then-vice president used to prevent him son from getting into trouble.
The president also says he wants the still-anonymous whistle-blower whose report sparked the impeachment inquiry to testify.
But Democrats claim Hunter Biden’s testimony would be irrelevant and inappropriate in regards to the charges being levied against the president – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr will present opening statements for the president’s defense, and are prepared to argue that the two articles are not actually impeachable offenses, according to the Constitution’s detailing of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Dershowitz reminded Americans in an interview Sunday that the Constitution labels these as treason and bribery.
Jason Crow, a freshman representative and Iraq and Afghanistan Army veteran, said in the interview on CBS This Morning Tuesday that he believes the framers of the Constitution has ‘exactly’ this type of instance in mind when drafting impeachment into the document.
‘The President of the United States has privileges and powers that no other person has. So the abuse of those very unique powers and privileges, is exactly what the framers had in mind when they drafted the impeachment procedures,’ Crow, one of the Democratic impeachment managers, said.