Klobuchar baffled as to why Trump wouldn’t want impeachment witnesses

By David Cohen

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said she doesn’t understand why the Trump administration is blocking witnesses from testifying in President Donald Trump’s pending Senate impeachment trial.

“I think that there will be an agreement and this trial will go forward,” she said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union. “I think what is shocking to me is, right now, despite the president claiming his innocence, claiming that he wants to present witnesses, he's the one blocking the witnesses.”

The House on Wednesday approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that she wants the Senate to set rules for the impeachment trial before she sends over the articles of impeachment. One of the issues is whether Democrats would be allowed to call witnesses for the trial, which is to be presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Klobuchar, who’s also a Democratic presidential candidate, said she would expect the president would want to mount a defense.

“He could have his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, testify,” she told CNN’s Dana Bash. “We just found out this weekend that someone who works for Mulvaney, Michael Duffey, had sent an e-mail 90 minutes after the president made that critical call to the Ukrainian president. This guy sent an e-mail. I have it here. We just found it.“

The crux of the impeachment case has been whether Trump abused his power by seeking to deny aid to Ukraine unless it launched an investigation into the Biden family. The White House has repeatedly blocked witnesses from testifying about matters pertaining to this situation, invoking executive privilege.

The Minnesota Democrat compared the situation to when President Richard M. Nixon was facing impeachment after the 1972 Watergate break-in. (Nixon ultimately resigned in August 1974 before he could be impeached.)

“When Richard Nixon — when those hearings were held, Richard Nixon had all the president's men testify. He had major people testify from his administration,” she said.

It’s possible the Trump administration might consider Nixon’s Watergate experience to be a cautionary tale about allowing administration officials to testify. Some of the most damning testimony against Nixon came from his own administration, including White House counsel John Dean and presidential aide Alexander Butterfield, who exposed the existence of the president’s Oval Office taping system.