A pair of Senate Democrats want to change the chamber’s rules for an impeachment trial to allow both sides to request that witnesses and documents be subpoenaed.
Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyHillicon Valley: Facebook suspends misinformation networks targeting US | Lawmakers grill census officials on cybersecurity | Trump signs order to protect GPS | Dem senators propose federal facial recognition moratorium Overnight Energy: Panel gives chairman power to subpoena Interior | House passes bill to protect wilderness | House Republicans propose carbon capture bill | Ocasio-Cortez introduces bill to ban fracking Ocasio-Cortez introduces national fracking ban MORE (Ore.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenWarren asks for probe of whether Trump violated law by delaying Puerto Rico funds Democrats seek to drive wedge between Trump, GOP on whistleblowers Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia MORE (Md.) introduced legislation on Thursday that would allow both House managers and a president’s legal team to motion to subpoena witnesses and documents.
Under the proposed rules change, if the presiding officer — the chief justice — decides the request is “material and relevant to the impeachment trial and not redundant” the subpoena would then be issued.
Merkley argued lawmakers currently only have a “window” for both sides to agree to changes to the impeachment rules “outside the pressure of an imminent trial.”
“Whether to hear out the truth should never be a partisan question,” he added.
The rules change would lay out a substantially different process than the rules for the Trump impeachment trial, where no new witnesses or documents were called.
Under those rules, the Senate held an initial vote on whether or not to open the door for both sides to request specific witnesses. That vote failed.
If it had been successful, both House managers and Trump’s team could have made motions for specific witnesses or documents. Those would have been voted on by the Senate, where a simple majority would have been needed to successfully call a witness or compel documents.
The Merkley-Van Hollen change would still allow for a senator to try to overrule the chief justice’s decision to issue a subpoena. It would take a simple majority to overrule the chief justice.
Van Hollen added that the Trump trial, which ended in acquittal last week, was a “disgrace.”
“To prevent this type of farce from occurring again, the Senate must change its rules to require witnesses and documents,” he added.
The legislation is one of several changes senators have suggested to how Congress handles impeachment.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said last week that he will introduce a constitutional amendment to raise the threshold for passing articles of impeachment in the House from a simple majority to three-fifths.
And Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: DOJ indicts four Chinese military officers over Equifax hack | Amazon seeks Trump deposition in ‘war cloud’ lawsuit | Inside Trump’s budget | Republican proposes FTC overhaul GOP senator proposes overhauling federal agency to confront Big Tech Senators push for new rules now that Trump impeachment battle is over MORE (R-Mo.) introduced legislation that would make House-passed articles of impeachment “deemed” as received if they had not been sent to the Senate within 25 days of passage.
It would also allow a senator to try to dismiss the articles of impeachment.