Republican Sen. James Lankford said Sunday that the “House did not do their homework” in calling witnesses before sending the articles of impeachment, expecting the Senate to do more than its constitutional duty.
Lankford joined several other Republicans in asking why House Democrats didn’t enforce their subpoenas in court. He said the Senate shouldn’t be the chamber introducing new witnesses, like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.
“It looks like they’re asking the Senate to go be special counsel, go search, go seek out. That’s not really the task of the Senate. The task of the Senate is to hear the trial,” Lankford said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Lankford argued that the biggest difference between this trial and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton wasn’t the White House stonewalling the investigation. It was the amount of information — the House sent over 18 boxes in the Clinton trial — the Senate had to act on.
“It is a very different process because the House did not do their homework this time and didn’t seem interested in it,” he said of the current case. “All they wanted to do was get it done by Christmas and then sent into the Senate.”
House Democrats have said they wanted to avoid a long tangle with the courts, blaming President Donald Trump instead for blocking key witnesses from testifying or responding to subpoenas.
“If you argue that, well, the House needed to go through endless months or even years of litigation before bringing about an impeachment, you effectively nullify the impeachment clause,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said earlier this month.
“You allow the president of the United States — by delay, by playing rope-a-dope in the courts — to defeat the power of the impeachment clause.”
Lankford countered: “They want to slow down the trial as much as possible in the Senate. It’s just a very odd political strategy for them, more than a fact-finding strategy.”
The senator also defended Trump’s request of Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, which kick-started the impeachment proceedings. Lankford said the president would have wanted any individual to be looked into for corruption, and he said the Justice Department is collaborating with foreign nations on other work.
Though the rules of the trial leave open a possibility for Trump’s defense team to move for a motion to dismiss, Lankford said he doesn’t believe that will happen.
“We’ll end up with 16 hours of questions and then we’ll have a motion of whether we need to have additional witnesses and additional evidence, and then come to a verdict.”