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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (January 20th-25th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on motions per­tain­ing to rules for Don­ald Trump’s removal tri­al, which took place in the Sen­ate dur­ing the week that end­ed yes­ter­day and will con­tin­ue into this week.

(The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was in recess.)

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

SETTING RULES FOR DONALD TRUMP’S TRIAL: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd adopt­ed a res­o­lu­tion (S. Res­o­lu­tion 483) estab­lish­ing pro­ce­dures for its impeach­ment tri­al of Don­ald Trump:

  • A del­e­ga­tion of House Democ­rats was allowed twen­ty-four hours over no more than three days to argue for con­vic­tion on two arti­cles of impeach­ment the House approved in Decem­ber. Trump’s attor­neys were grant­ed an equal peri­od to present a defense.
  • The res­o­lu­tion then allo­cates six­teen hours for respons­es to writ­ten ques­tions from sen­a­tors. Chief Jus­tice John G. Roberts Jr. would read the ques­tions aloud and direct them to the House man­agers, Trump’s defense team or both sides.
  • At that point, the Sen­ate will hear four hours of argu­ments from the two sides on whether to allow motions to sub­poe­na wit­ness­es and doc­u­ments. If the Sen­ate votes to issue sub­poe­nas, wit­ness­es would be deposed before sub­se­quent votes on whether to call them before the Sen­ate.
  • Fol­low­ing any wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny, the Sen­ate is to delib­er­ate and vote on the impeach­ment arti­cles. Approval of either arti­cle by a two-thirds vote of sen­a­tors present would remove Trump from office.

The first arti­cle of impeach­ment charges Trump with abus­ing the pow­ers of the pres­i­den­cy by with­hold­ing mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine and a promised Oval Office meet­ing in an effort to pres­sure Ukrain­ian offi­cials to announce inves­ti­ga­tions that would den­i­grate Joe Biden, a polit­i­cal rival of the pres­i­dent. The sec­ond arti­cle charges Trump with obstruct­ing the House­’s inves­ti­ga­tion of his con­duct.

Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, said the res­o­lu­tion he spon­sored “sets up a struc­ture that is fair, even­hand­ed and tracks close­ly with past prece­dents.” Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Charles Schumer, D‑New York, said the res­o­lu­tion “asks the Sen­ate to rush through as fast as pos­si­ble, and makes get­ting evi­dence as hard as pos­si­ble.” A yes vote was to adopt the res­o­lu­tion.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

REJECTING BOLTON AS TRIAL WITNESS: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that sought to call John Bolton, the for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er to Trump, as a wit­ness in the pres­i­den­t’s impeach­ment tri­al.

Bolton said ear­li­er he would tes­ti­fy if sub­poe­naed and could, accord­ing to his lawyer, pro­vide first­hand accounts of events and con­ver­sa­tions, includ­ing com­ments by Trump, on the with­hold­ing of secu­ri­ty aid to Ukraine.

Jer­rold Nadler, D‑New York, said:

“The ques­tion is whether the Sen­ate will be com­plic­it in the pres­i­den­t’s crimes by cov­er­ing them up. Any sen­a­tor who votes against Bolton’s tes­ti­mo­ny or any rel­e­vant tes­ti­mo­ny shows that he or she wants to be part of the coverup. What oth­er pos­si­ble rea­son is there to pro­hib­it a rel­e­vant wit­ness?”

Pat Cipol­lone, the White House coun­sel, replied that House inves­ti­ga­tors had not sought Bolton’s tes­ti­mo­ny.

“So for them to come here now and demand that before we even start the argu­ments — they ask you to do some­thing that they refuse to do for them­selves and then accuse you of a coverup when you don’t do it — it is ridicu­lous.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to call­ing Bolton as a wit­ness.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

REJECTING MULVANEY AS TRIAL WITNESS: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 21st tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that sought to call Mick Mul­vaney, the White House chief of staff, as a wit­ness in Pres­i­dent Trump’s impeach­ment tri­al.

Mul­vaney helped Trump use a hold on mil­i­tary aid and denial of an Oval Office vis­it to solic­it polit­i­cal favors from Ukrain­ian offi­cials. Mul­vaney told reporters in Octo­ber 2019 that it is not unusu­al for the admin­is­tra­tion to use for­eign aid as a lever to influ­ence the actions of recip­i­ents. “We do that all the time with for­eign policy.…I have news for every­body. Get over it.”

Hakeem Jef­fries, D‑New York, said Mul­vaney “was at the cen­ter of every stage of the pres­i­den­t’s sub­stan­tial pres­sure cam­paign against Ukraine. Based on the exten­sive evi­dence the House did obtain, it is clear that Mul­vaney was cru­cial in plan­ning the scheme, exe­cut­ing its imple­men­ta­tion and car­ry­ing out the coverup.”

In their reply, Trump’s defend­ers did not men­tion Mul­vaney but object­ed to Sen­ate’s call­ing any wit­ness­es.

Mike Pur­pu­ra, a deputy White House coun­sel, said House man­agers “had their chance to devel­op their evi­dence before they sent the arti­cles of impeach­ment to this cham­ber. This cham­ber’s role is not to do the House­’s job for it.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to call­ing Mul­vaney as a wit­ness.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

REJECTING BLAIR AND DUFFEY AS TRIAL WITNESSES: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 21st tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res 483 (above) that sought to call Robert B. Blair, an aide to White House chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney, and Michael P. Duf­fey, an Office Man­age­ment and Bud­get offi­cial, as wit­ness­es in the Don­ald Trump removal tri­al.

Both assist­ed Trump’s bid to use a freeze on mil­i­tary aid and denial of an Oval Office vis­it to gain Ukraine’s help in under­cut­ting for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s 2020 pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­cy. They were sub­poe­naed by House inves­ti­ga­tors but refused to com­ply on due process grounds.

Sylvia Gar­cia, D‑Texas, said:

“Blair and Duf­fey are not house­hold names. But they oper­at­ed the machin­ery of the exec­u­tive branch. They imple­ment­ed Pres­i­dent Trump’s instruc­tion to freeze mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine” and “stood at the cen­ter of this tan­gled web.”

Attor­ney Pam Bon­di, a Trump defend­er, told the Sen­ate that House impeach­ment inves­ti­ga­tors “took no action on the sub­poe­nas (they) issued to Mr. Duf­fey and Mr. Blair because they did­n’t want a court to tell them that they were tram­pling on their con­sti­tu­tion­al rights. Now they want this cham­ber to do it for them.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion of call­ing Blair and Duf­fey as wit­ness­es.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

EMPOWERING CHIEF JUSTICE TO RULE ON WITNESSES: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that would empow­er Chief Jus­tice John G. Roberts Jr. to rule on the rel­e­vance of wit­ness­es and doc­u­ments pro­posed to be sub­poe­naed in Don­ald Trump’s removal tri­al. This would change a rule requir­ing dis­putes over rel­e­vance to be resolved by a major­i­ty vote of sen­a­tors.

The Sen­ate, which has 53 Repub­li­cans and a Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus of 47 sen­a­tors, could vote to over­rule the chief jus­tice’s opin­ion.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, told Repub­li­cans: “If you can’t trust the chief jus­tice, appoint­ed by a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent, to make a fair deci­sion about mate­ri­al­i­ty [of wit­ness­es and doc­u­ments], I think it betrays the weak­ness of your case.”

Attor­ney Jay Seku­low of the pres­i­den­t’s defense team said: “With no dis­re­spect to the chief jus­tice, this is not an appel­late court. This is the U.S. Sen­ate. There is not an arbi­tra­tion clause in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. The Sen­ate shall have the sole pow­er to try all impeach­ments. We oppose the amend­ment.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

TIGHTENING IMPEACHMENT EVIDENCE RULES: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 21st tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that would gov­ern sub­poe­naed but thus far with­held doc­u­ments the admin­is­tra­tion might lat­er sub­mit as evi­dence in Pres­i­dent Trump’s impeach­ment tri­al. Under the amend­ment, if the pres­i­dent pro­duced any such mate­r­i­al, he would have to also pro­vide Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­al man­agers with all oth­er doc­u­ments that were demand­ed by the same sub­poe­na. The require­ment was intend­ed to pre­vent the admin­is­tra­tion from selec­tive­ly intro­duc­ing sub­poe­naed evi­dence.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, said that with­out this amend­ment, the GOP-draft­ed evi­dence rule “would enable the pres­i­dent to use his obstruc­tion not only as a shield to his mis­con­duct but also as a sword in his defense. [This] is an amend­ment based on sim­ple fair­ness, and it will help the Sen­ate and the Amer­i­can peo­ple get to the truth.”

Attor­ney Patrick Philbin of the White House team called the amend­ment invalid because House inves­ti­ga­tors issued most of their sub­poe­nas before the full House vot­ed on Octo­ber 31st, 2019, to for­mal­ly autho­rize impeach­ment pro­ceed­ings. He said the first 23 House sub­poe­nas “were all unauthorized…and that is why the Trump admin­is­tra­tion did not respond to them and did not com­ply with them.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

STREAMLINING RULES FOR ADMITTING WITNESSES: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to stream­line how the Sen­ate will deter­mine whether it will hear tes­ti­mo­ny dur­ing the impeach­ment tri­al from wit­ness­es includ­ing John Bolton, the for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, or Mick Mul­vaney, the White House chief of staff.

The Repub­li­can-writ­ten rules adopt­ed on Jan­u­ary 22nd (S Res­o­lu­tion 483) call for four hours of debate and a vote lat­er in the tri­al on whether any motions to sub­poe­na wit­ness­es or doc­u­ments will be con­sid­ered.

If any wit­ness­es were even­tu­al­ly sub­poe­naed, they would be deposed before anoth­er vote on whether to call them to tes­ti­fy before the Sen­ate.

This amend­ment would elim­i­nate the first vote on whether to con­sid­er call­ing any wit­ness­es, thus allow­ing guar­an­teed up-or-down votes on whether to hear from spe­cif­ic wit­ness­es.

The amend­ment also spec­i­fied that sen­a­tors would hear from wit­ness­es in per­son as opposed to via video­tape or by read­ing a depo­si­tion tran­script.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, said that with­out this rules change “there is no guar­an­tee that you are going to get a chance to vote on spe­cif­ic wit­ness­es.”

Mike Pur­pu­ra, a deputy White House coun­sel, said the amend­ment would impair the Sen­ate’s “dis­cre­tion as to whether to hear from the wit­ness live [and] if there are wit­ness­es at some point or not.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

DENYING SUBPOENAS FOR WHITE HOUSE DOCUMENTS: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment that sought to autho­rize the removal tri­al of Don­ald Trump to sub­poe­na White House doc­u­ments that are direct­ly rel­e­vant to charges lev­eled against the pres­i­dent.

The amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 was in response to the White House­’s total refusal to com­ply with sub­poe­nas they received last year from House impeach­ment inves­ti­ga­tors.

In addi­tion to shun­ning House requests for thou­sands of White House doc­u­ments includ­ing cor­re­spon­dence, emails and text mes­sages relat­ed to the impeach­ment arti­cles, the regime has dis­re­gard­ed House sub­poe­nas issued to the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of State and Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get.

Sen­ate Democ­rats, led by Chuck Schumer, also intro­duced tri­al amend­ments to com­pel those agen­cies to respond to a new round of sub­poe­nas, and those mea­sures were also killed by 53–47 par­ty-line votes.

Zoe Lof­gren, D‑California, said:

“As pow­er­ful as our evi­dence is — and make no mis­take, it over­whelm­ing­ly proves [Trump’s] guilt — we did not receive a sin­gle doc­u­ment from the exec­u­tive branch includ­ing the White House itself.”

Attor­ney Patrick Philbin, a defend­er of Don­ald Trump, said:

“It is a stun­ning admis­sion of the inad­e­quate and bro­ken process that the House Democ­rats ran in this impeach­ment inquiry that [they] failed to com­pile a record to sup­port their charges.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

EXTENDING DEADLINE FOR FILING MOTIONS: The Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 that sought to increase from two hours to about 24 hours the time allot­ted both sides for fil­ing respons­es to ini­tial motions in the removal tri­al of Don­ald Trump.

Of the twelve roll calls con­duct­ed dur­ing the tri­al’s open­ing ses­sions, this was the only one not decid­ed by a 53–47 par­ty-line vote. The tal­ly on this roll call as 52–48, with Susan Collins, R‑Maine, vot­ing with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, said a two-hour win­dow “real­ly does­n’t give any­body enough time to respond to a writ­ten motion.”

Trump attor­ney Jay Seku­low said “we are ready to proceed.…We would ask the cham­ber to reject this amend­ment.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Aye (2):
Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Nay (2):
Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Maria Cantwell and Pat­ty Mur­ray

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will con­tin­ue its removal tri­al of Don­ald Trump in the week of Jan­u­ary 27th. The House sched­ule was to be announced.

Edi­tor’s Note: The infor­ma­tion in NPI’s week­ly How Cas­ca­di­a’s U.S. law­mak­ers vot­ed fea­ture is pro­vid­ed by Votera­ma in Con­gress, a ser­vice of Thomas Vot­ing Reports. All rights are reserved. Repro­duc­tion of this post is not per­mit­ted, not even with attri­bu­tion. Use the per­ma­nent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2020 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

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