Sen. Patrick J. Toomey has reportedly spoken with several colleagues about calling in just two witnesses to President Trump’s impeachment trial.
The influential Republican from Pennsylvania’s plan is ingenuous: Let Democrats call former National Security Adviser John Bolton, and Republicans will call former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Bolton makes claims that Trump really wanted Ukraine to announce it would investigate Burisma, a corrupt company that employs Hunter Biden, paying him $50,000 a month. Bolton says Trump wanted to hold $391 million in U.S. aid until the probe was announced.
But Hunter Biden would be a far more devastating witness. While Bolton will likely come off as a hostile witness — Trump fired him from his post and had some unkind things to say — Hunter Biden could deliver a slew of hitherto unheard testimony that could change the entire story altogether.
“Toomey has confided to GOP senators that proposing a ‘one-for-one’ deal with Senate Democrats may be necessary at some point, particularly with pressure mounting for witnesses to be called, according to the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations,” The Washington Post reported. “He has argued that such an arrangement could force Democrats to accept a Republican witness against their wishes or else risk having Republicans move ahead to acquit Trump, the officials said.”
Toomey has spoken about his idea with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and others, the officials added. …
Separately, two Senate GOP aides, who requested anonymity to speak frankly, said Romney is in touch with Toomey and generally supportive of a witness deal that he believes is fair to the GOP but has not yet signed on to any specific plan.
The proposal also came up in private conversations at Monday’s closed Senate GOP lunch, according to the officials and a Senate aide briefed on the meeting.
McConnell is reportedly not a big supporter of the proposal, putting the brakes on until the matter is formally taken up, later this week.
Still, Toomey’s willingness to discuss bringing in witnesses, even under a “one-for-one” scenario, raises new questions for Trump’s team and Democrats as the trial proceeds. Will more Republicans join in and call for a contained and brief witness arrangement, such as Toomey has outlined to his colleagues? And would Senate Democrats be open to a trade after weeks of sharply criticizing Republicans for seeking witnesses they see as irrelevant to the trial?
Romney and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said early Monday that they expected other Republicans to back a push for new evidence, but they did not specify Toomey as one of the Republicans who might call for witnesses.
Those statements came after new revelations from former national security adviser John Bolton, who in his forthcoming book alleges that Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to desired investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Colorful language, the GOP caucus claimed it was appalled.