Dem Senator Is Making a Move That Will Put Chief Justice Roberts in the Hot Seat

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Posted: Jan 30, 2020 7:00 AM
Dem Senator Is Making a Move That Will Put Chief Justice Roberts in the Hot Seat

Source: Win McNamee/Pool via AP

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) plans to make a motion on Friday that would require Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to decide, once and for all, whether or not the Senate will hear from witnesses in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. 

"A fair trial includes documents and witnesses. And in a fair trial the judge determines what evidence is admitted. My motion ensures the Chief Justice will serve the same role as a judge in any trial across our country – to allow the Senate access to the facts they need to get to the truth," Van Hollen said in a statement. "My motion requires the Chief Justice to subpoena witnesses and documents if he determines they are likely to provide evidence relevant to the articles of impeachment. It would also require the Chief Justice to rule on any executive privilege – to prevent efforts by the Administration to stonewall and delay access to the facts."

"This motion is consistent with Senate rules and could pass with a majority vote, and would preserve the right of the Senate to overrule the Chief Justice if the majority disagrees," Van Hollen said.

"No Republican can question the fairness of this approach – the Chief Justice oversees the highest court in our land and was nominated by a Republican President," the senator said in his statement. "And, given his authority to rule on questions of privilege, they should not fear a drawn-out process. I urge my colleagues to seek out truth and the facts and to vote in support of my motion. Anything else constitutes an effort to hide the truth."

Democrats have repeatedly made the argument that hearing from witnesses will clear up the air on the president's so-called wrongdoing. Two of the main people they want to hear from are former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. 

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Republicans have argued that any witnesses should have been called in the House. When these officials were slapped with Congressional subpoenas, the White House invoked executive privilege. Instead of waiting for the courts to rule whether or not these officials' testimony was a matter of national security, Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed full steam ahead. She admitted that the courts could "take a very long time" to make a determination.