Democrats want documents, not just witnesses, at Trump's impeachment trial

Todd Ruger, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The high-profile fight over potentially dramatic witness testimony at an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has overshadowed the Senate's possible demand for a different type of revealing cache of new evidence -- withheld documents.

Senate Democrats have pushed to include in the trial documents that the Trump administration refused to turn over during the House investigation. But they need at least four Republicans to vote with all Democrats and independents for the Senate to subpoena witnesses or documents, and it's not clear they have those votes.

The trial is expected to begin next week, following Wednesday's House vote to transmit the articles of impeachment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says the House issued five subpoenas and made 71 requests and got none of the information.

Documents generally aren't the most thrilling part of a trial, and don't produce nearly as many made-for-television moments as live witness testimony.

But, at times, what lawyers and investigators dig up in documents can make a case.


"Often documents speak more loudly than witnesses," Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a former state attorney general who has argued before the Supreme Court, said those unfilled requests from House Democrats include documents from numerous agencies including the Defense, State and Energy departments.

"And these documents tell a story. Documents don't lie," Blumenthal said. "Documents are some of the most persuasive evidence that can be produced, and here it can corroborate the powerful evidence we already have from witnesses."

Blumenthal said he has been thinking ahead to issues that will come up during the trial. There are documents, he said, Trump's defense team could bring up as well as those that could be helpful to the House managers presenting the case for impeachment.


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