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Willingness to Testify Highlights Need for Witnesses in Any Fair Impeachment Trial

WASHINGTON - Former Trump Administration national security advisor John Bolton’s willingness to testify highlights the need for witness testimony if the Senate is to hold a fair impeachment trial of Donald Trump. In the face of threats by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to move forward with the trial without Democratic support, Common Cause today urged every member of the Senate to commit to a fair and unbiased trial of President Trump – including calling witnesses and returning campaign funds raised for them by the President who will be the defendant on trial. The letter emphasizes that Senators who do not return those campaign contributions should recuse themselves from the trial. 

“The American people deserve a fair trial from the Senate in the wake of President Trump’s impeachment. That means a trial with witnesses from the administration, and it means a trial with a jury untainted from accepting campaign funds raised by the defendant,” said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. “If Donald Trump’s Republican defenders in the Senate truly believe that the President has done nothing wrong, then they should welcome the opportunity to hear public testimony from Trump administration officials who witnessed firsthand the events in question. It is our strong hope that more Republican Senators will follow the example of Senator Mitt Romney, who has come out publicly in support of John Bolton testifying. History will not look kindly on any Senator who continues to put party before country and denies the American people the truth.”

In the leadup to the Senate trial, many of Common Cause’s 1.2 million members across the country are visiting their Senators’ state offices to meet with staff and deliver petitions calling for a fair impeachment trial instead of a rigged one that ignores the abuses of the powers of his office committed by Donald Trump.

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Common Cause previously issued an impeachment report outlining the abuses of  power of the presidency by Donald Trump, including his campaign to bully and coerce Ukraine into smearing one of his political rivals by withholding U.S. military aid to the imperiled U.S. ally. Today’s letter draws attention to that report and its recommendations that the Senators to hold a fair trial that meets the following criteria:

  • The Senate must reach bipartisan agreement before the trial begins on procedures to supplement existing Senate impeachment trial rules, including subpoenaing witnesses and admission of evidence.
  • The Senate must allow to be admitted into the trial record as evidence all House impeachment inquiry materials designated by the House Judiciary Committee as publicly available, including transcripts of depositions, public hearing testimony and other documents.
  • The Senate must allow full presentation of the House managers’ case before any votes on motions to dismiss or other motions that could terminate the Senate impeachment trial.
  • Senators must return any and all political contributions raised by President Trump for any political committee with which Senators are affiliated, or they must recuse themselves from the trial.
  • The Senate must permit public access to the trial to the greatest extent possible, limiting transparency only in furtherance of compelling interests, such as protection of classified information, whistleblower anonymity, and confidentiality of final deliberation of articles of impeachment following closing arguments.

To view the letter to Senators, click here.

To view the Common Cause report on impeachment, click here.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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