Senate Republicans reject effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid

White House Counsel: "There was no due process for the President"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Republicans on Tuesday rejected an opening effort by Democrats to compel the Trump administration to hand over documents related to the delayed Ukraine aid.

@SenateGOP had said "House Democrats’ process was a cover-up. Ours will be transparent. Their process was blindly partisan. Ours will be impartial. Their process was rigged. Ours will be FAIR."

Democrats offered two amendments to the rules resolution that would have required the administration to turn over documents. Both were tabled, effectively blocking the requests, in back-to-back 53-47 votes.

The documents, according to Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), would relate to conversations and documents between President Trump, top administration officials and Ukraine on the delayed funding, which was eventually released in September.

"No one can argue that these documents are not directly related ... People should understand that the documents can shed as much light on why the aid was cut off, who did it," Schumer told reporters at a press conference ahead of the vote. 

"The documents are of equal importance. People should understand that the documents can shed as much light on why the aid was cut off, who did it, and how it evolved, as the witnesses. And we feel very strongly that we need documents and that's why it's our first call," he continued.

The first amendment specifically requested documents from the White House related to the Ukraine aid from after Jan. 1, 2019, including calls between Trump and the Ukrainian government and any communications among White House staff on trying to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

The second amendment focused on State Department documents including communications on the decision to hold the Ukraine aid and documents related to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former special representative for Ukraine negotiations ambassador Kurt Volker, then-Charge d’Affaires in Ukraine William B. Taylor and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

Democrats, as part of the second, request, also wanted copies of communications with Rudy Giulaini, Trump’s personal lawyer, who has been trying to investigate the Bidens.

House impeachment managers urged senators to back the request for documents, arguing that the public "deserves the full truth."

"The documents will also show us how key players inside the White House, such as the president's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, his deputy Robert Blair and former national security adviser John Bolton helped set up the deal by executing the freeze on all military aid and withholding a promised visit to the White House," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said.

"The documents include records of the people who may have objected to this scheme, such as Ambassador Bolton. This is an important impeachment case against the president," she added from the Senate floor.

The amendment is the first of several Democrats are expected to force on Tuesday to try to shoehorn language into the rules resolution on the documents and subpoenaing witnesses.

Schumer declined to provide details on what votes Democrats will force, or how many, telling reporters to "wait and see" but that they didn't want to be "dilatory."

But Democrats face an uphill battle to get any changes into the rules resolution. They would need four Senate Republicans and McConnell has said he has the 51 votes necessary to enact his rules.

"The organizing resolution already has the support of the majority of the Senate. That's because it sets up a structure that is fair, evenhanded and tracks closely with the past precedents that were established unanimously," McConnell said on Tuesday ahead of the vote.

White House Counsel: "There was no due process for the President"

The White House also said: "What’s happening at the Senate today is simple: Desperate Democrats are demanding a do-over. Why? They rushed, they leaked, they lied. They still have no case. And they know it."

Trump Counsel said “the President was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses. The President was denied the right to access evidence. And the President was denied the right to have counsel present at hearings. That's a trifecta—a trifecta that violates the Constitution of the United States."

"They're asking the Senate to attack one of the most sacred rights we have as Americans—the right to choose our President—in an election year."

A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election. "Talk about the Framers’ worst nightmare."

Jay Sekulow: "Are we here because of a phone call? Or are we here, before this great body, because since the President was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed?"

Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel: "They said in their brief, 'We have overwhelming evidence'—and they're afraid to make their case."

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