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Oregon Senators Push For More Impeachment Witnesses

<p>Sen. Jeff Merkley speaks to the crowd at a ribbon cutting for Three Sisters and Tumalo Irrigation Districts on March 19, 2019.&nbsp;</p>

Emily Cureton

With the Senate impeachment trial set to start Tuesday morning, the push by Democrats — including Oregon’s two Senators — for additional witnesses to testify is intensifying. 

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said the ability to call more witnesses and review more documents goes “right to the heart of whether the Senate is going to conduct a full and fair trial.” 

Merkley told OPB it wasn't the House's job or their goal to try to conduct the equivalent of a trial.

“Instead, they were looking at it — as envisioned in the Constitution — as to whether there was enough information to say there should be a trial,” he said. 

Now, the real trial begins. 

"No trial simply looks at the information provided in the indictment. You continue to gather and deepen the richness of the information that bears on both sides.” Merkley said he’s hoping that the two sides agree to call an equal number of witnesses.

But in order for that to happen, at least four Senate Republicans would have to side with Senate Democrats. 

“Given the fact that additional information is coming out practically every single day, I believe a lot of those (Republican) Senators are saying, ‘If I vote against witnesses and documents and then information comes out later and people say, ‘You should have had that and you should have used that in your process of being fair,'" Sen. Ron Wyden said.

"History will not look kindly on those who resisted getting the evidence."

Both Senators said they hope to hear from people who communicated directly with President Trump, including former national security adviser John Bolton and the president’s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. 

The Senators said it’s important to better understand the key issue, whether the president withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine in order to compel that government to investigate his domestic political rival. 

The president is pushing Republicans to move quickly to reject the articles of impeachment and acquit him. The White House has said the House impeachment hearings violated Trump’s right to due process. 

Four Senate Republicans would have to agree with the Democrats in order for additional witnesses to be heard.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

OPB Staff