Powered by Topple

Santorum takes on whole ticked-off CNN panel right after ‘no witness’ vote

(CNN video screenshot)

Powered by Topple

Despite all the tears that were shed after the GOP-led Senate voted to not allow witnesses to testify in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, the fact remains that were no legitimate charges for them to testify about in the first place, according to former Sen. Rick Santorum.

In a heated discussion Friday evening with his colleagues at CNN, where he’s been employed since early 2017, the former Pennsylvania senator repeatedly declared that the House Democrats’ case against the president has been flawed from the get-go.

Listen to the full discussion below:

“It’s because, as you heard from many senators who have commented since, you will hear from many more, they believe that the House case as presented in the articles of impeachment is not sufficient on its face to vote to remove a president,” he said early Friday evening after his colleagues began complaining about the no witnesses vote.

“They’re voting on articles of impeachment that the House presented. If the House articles of impeachment in the eyes of senators are not sufficient to remove a president, who cares what the case brings,” he added.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired from his post by Trump in early 2017, disagreed with this mindset, though his rebuttal seemed lacking.

“I agree with the adjectives that have been used by other people [to describe what happened]. It’s a travesty. I go back and forth between thinking, do you call it a sham or do you call it a shame? It’s probably both of those things,” he said.

“John Bolton is going to testify in a way, but it won’t be under oath and it won’t be in the Senate. He’s going to testify in a manner of speaking night after night on television and on the radio and on the radio and in editorial pages for weeks and weeks and weeks.”

If former National Security Adviser John Bolton is going to “testify” publicly regardless of what happens in the trial, then why is forcing him to testify in the trial necessary? Especially when you factor in that the president was slated to be acquitted no matter what?

Bharara then turned his attention to Santorum.

“And the fact that the former senator there on your panel says there’s a technical argument that the Senate trial was based on, even without witnesses and documents, the limited record that was provided to the House, that’s not …,” he said before being cut off.

“That is not what I’m saying!” Santorum said. “Just to be very clear, because everybody is misrepresenting what I’m saying. I’m not talking about the record. I’m talking about the articles of impeachment themselves. Not the witnesses, not the record.”

The actual allegations made against the president in article 1 and article 2 are, of themselves, insufficient to remove a president. That’s what Republicans are saying. You can argue all you want about witnesses, you can argue about documents, the point that’s being made is … still not guilty.”

Fact-check: TRUE.

Liberal legal scholar Jonathan Turley, a CBS News legal analyst and George Washington University law professor, has maintained the exact same point.

The problem I have is that judging by how they define these two articles, you could impeach every living president on this type of allegations,” he argued last month on CBS News.

While he’s criticized both articles of impeachment, he’s been especially critical of the “obstruction of justice” charge.

“The most troubling for me is the obstruction of Congress,” he continued last month on CBS. ” They set an abbreviated period for investigation, arguably the shortest investigation of any presidential impeachment, depending on how you count the Johnson impeachment days.”

“And then they said if you don’t turn over the evidence during that period, you’re obstructing Congress. Well, President Trump went to court to challenge the necessity of handing over that material. Both Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon were allowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court –they ultimately lost, and Nixon resigned soon after. My concern is that this really does seem like you are making an appeal to the court into a high crime or a misdemeanor.”

Listen:

Nevertheless, Bharara persisted Friday with his claim that Bolton’s testimony would have somehow affected the outcome of the president’s trial.

“People understand when you have a person like John Bolton who is close to the president, after the president’s lawyers were saying week after week after week that you have no evidence of someone who has firsthand knowledge, and this person has firsthand knowledge and is prepared to testify, the public is going to perceive that as a sham. And I think that they will,” he said.

“There is a reason why I think there is a debate in the Senate right now about how much deliberation there should be, because senators who understand that it’s a sham, and that common sense renders it a sham, don’t want to spend a lot of time on this and have to explain. Some people do want to explain because they have constituencies who ask them the question, you have a guy who has firsthand knowledge who undermines the chief defense of the president of the United States. Why don’t you let him testify?”

Unfortunately, host Wolf Blitzer chose to block Santorum from replying by interrupting the discussion and drawing viewers’ attention to what was happening in the Senate at the time.

Had the senator been allowed to reply, he may have perhaps chosen to quote the words of Rick Manning, the president of Americans for Limited Government.

In a statement released earlier in the week, he explained why he believes anything Bolton has to say is irrelevant.

“No matter what [he] claims, the facts remain the same,” he said. “The Ukrainian government had zero knowledge that the funds were being held until a story ran on August 28.”

“Senator Ron Johnson, who was meeting with the Ukrainians on September 1 along with Vice President Pence, called President Trump about what they should ask for in exchange for the aid being released, to which the President replied, ‘No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?’ And, that he would likely be happy with the decision that was made: ‘We’re reviewing it now, and you’ll probably like my final decision.'”

Vivek Saxena

Comments

Latest Articles