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OUR OPINION: Senate should allow witnesses

OUR OPINION: Senate should allow witnesses


As we write this, the question of whether the Senate will call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Trump remains unanswered.

The heat was turned up on the issue of witnesses in the wake of a New York Times report about allegations made by John Bolton, President Trump's former national security advisor, in his forthcoming book. On Monday, Republican Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine said the Bolton report strengthened the case for witnesses, including Bolton.

Do the necessary 51 votes exist in the Senate for hearing from witnesses? That's unclear, but Americans might find out later this week. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, told CNN on Tuesday he anticipates a vote on witnesses to take place Friday or Saturday.

We support allowing both sides in the trial to call witnesses, just like in any trial, and we urge Iowa Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst to support witnesses if the question is put to a vote. At a minimum, all senators should have to cast a vote for or against witnesses, then answer for those votes back home.

If the White House wishes to exercise executive privilege in an effort to prevent some witnesses, such as Bolton, from testifying, fine. Then let's hear what the courts have to say about the argument, just as Americans heard from the Supreme Court on the matter of President Richard Nixon's Oval Office tapes during the Watergate scandal.

For reasons of transparency, accountability and responsibility, the goal of the Senate in the impeachment trial should be an impartial, thorough examination of the case, not a partisan, half-hearted effort to get it over with and move on as quickly as possible. We do not believe the Senate will meet the full measure of those obligations to the country as a whole if it renders its verdict in this case after first closing the door to testimony from witnesses.


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