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Sen. Merkley Describes Possible ‘Cover-Up’ If Evidence Is Withheld From Impeachment Process

Sen. Jeff Merkley

Senator Jeff Merkley, D-OR, described the impeachment trial of President Trump as a possible “travesty” during a call with reporters on Thursday, if Senate Republicans vote to exclude new evidence from the process.

“The Senate really is on trial. If it fails to access documents and witnesses this does not look anything like a full and fair trial,” he said.

Merkley acknowledged the likelihood of President Trump being acquitted if at least four Republicans don’t join Democrats in voting to include new witnesses and documents.

“I think that there are many Republican colleagues who are wrestling with their core understanding that in America, a full and fair trial means witnesses and documents,” Merkley said.

The Senate will continue hearing testimony from House members this week. The president’s defense team will then have three days to make their case against the two articles of impeachment against him, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

According to Merkley, Republican lawmakers are pushing to have opening remarks finished before President Trump’s State of the Union address on February 4th.

Twenty Senate Republicans would have to vote with Democrats to remove the president from office. But regardless of such a vote, Merkley said the impeachment proceedings bring up major constitutional issues for the country about the immunity of the president from investigations.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.