The lead House manager in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) declared Sunday, Jan. 26, that the president would not be exonerated without Senate calling for witnesses. 

“I think they’re definitely afraid of what witnesses will have to say, and so their whole strategy has been deprive the public of a fair trial,” Schiff  said on ABC’s “This Week.” “They don’t frame it that way, but that’s in essence, it. They have a very heavy burden, though, with that, because the American people understand what a fair trial is. A fair trial requires witnesses.”

The vote on whether to call witnesses has become a key battle in the impeachment trial between the House managers and President Trump’s defense team.

Democrats want to hear from a number of key current and former Trump administration members including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney while Republicans want to call former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden to testify.

Schiff said Republicans can call witnesses as long as they are “relevant” and called on Chief Justice John Roberts to rule on the relevance of testimony from Hunter Biden.

“I think the president has the right to call relevant witnesses, just as we do in his defense. He doesn’t have the right to call irrelevant witnesses or witnesses who aren’t fact witnesses.” Schiff said. “We have a very capable justice sitting right behind me who can make decisions about the materiality of witnesses.”

Meanwhile, Republicans doubled down on their positions on calling witnesses in the Senate trial.

“I’m not going to vote to approve witnesses because the House Democrats have had lots of witnesses … we listened to Adam Schiff drone on for three days and the president’s lawyers, in just two hours demolished the case they had made,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“They’re not upset that they haven’t had witnesses, they’re upset that their witnesses haven’t said what they want them to say,” he added.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) described the call of witnesses as Democrats’ stalling tactic. 

“They wanted to move as fast as possible, and now they want to slow down the trial as much as possible in the Senate,” Lankford said on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s just a very odd political strategy for them more than a fact-finding strategy.”

President Trump earlier in the day echoed his defense team, calling the Democrats’ impeachment effort “a massive election interference” and referring to Schiff as a “CORRUPT POLITICIAN.”

Join our program