By Miriam Raftery
January 24, 2020 (Washington D.C.)- - As Democrats wrapped up their arguments for removing President Trump from office during the Senate impeachment trial this week, Republicans controlling the Senate have thus far refused to allow new witnesses to be called. The White house continues to defy requests for public records.
Now, CBS news reports that a confidant of President Trump told CBS that senators were warned quote: “vote against the president & your head will be on a pike.”
Such a threat, if true, could amount to witness tampering and threatening federal officials with violence.
In addition, MSNBC reports hearing a tape in which Trump demands that Marie Yovanovich, the former ambassador to Ukraine, be removed, though whether he was calling for her firing or assassination is unclear.
“Get rid of her...Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it,.” A voice that sounds like Trump is heard demanding on the tape, ABC News reports.
The recording was allegedly made during a 2018 dinner party with Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Parnas’ attorney, Joe Bondy, has issued a statement which says of the recording, which he indicated was not released by his client, “It is yet another example of Mr. Parnas’s version of events being corroborated by evidence in the form of recordings, emails, text messages.”
Trump has used the phrase “take out” when he referred to his order to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq. Trump, who formerly starred in the Apprentice game show, famously used the phrase “You’re fired!” when referring to terminating a job.
Trump has also claimed he did not know Parnas. Now a tape indicating he not only knew Parnas, but may have discussed the firing or killing of a U.S. ambassador in Parnas’ presence, is reigniting Democrats’ calls for new witnesses to be called, including the President himself, who has thus far refused to testify or authorizing any of his White house staff or cabinet members to do so.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who put forth Democrats arguments to impeach Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, on Friday indicated he is prepared to ask Chief Justice John Roberts to rule on issues of evidence and executive privilege claimed by the President.
“You cannot use executive privilege to hide wrongdoing or criminality or impeachable misconduct, and that is exactly the purpose for which they seek to use it,” Schiff said in a press conference on Friday.
A poll released Wednesday by Reuters/Ipsos found that 72% believe the impeachment trial “should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify,” including 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans. And 70% of the public, including 80% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans, said senators should “act as impartial jurors” during the trial.
The poll showed that two out of three Americans are paying attention to the proceedings.
Next week, the White House will present its defense in the impeachment hearing.