A Senate Democrat is planning to call on U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts to subpoena witnesses he deems relevant or rule on claims of executive privilege, even if his motions can be overruled by a simple majority.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., tweeted:
"On Friday, I plan to offer a motion that will require Chief Justice Roberts to:
"1. Subpoena witnesses and documents if he determines they are relevant.
"2. Rule on any claims of executive privilege in order to expedite the trial."
"In a fair trial the judge determines what evidence is admitted," Van Hollen argued in a statement. "My motion ensures the Chief Justice will serve the same role as a judge in any trial across our country – to allow the Senate access to the facts they need to get to the truth."
Any chief justice subpoenas could be overruled by a simple majority vote, Van Hollen added.
"No Republican can question the fairness of this approach – the Chief Justice oversees the highest court in our land and was nominated by a Republican President," Van Hollen continued. "And, given his authority to rule on questions of privilege, they should not fear a drawn-out process.
"I urge my colleagues to seek out the truth and the facts and to vote in support of my motion. Anything else constitutes an effort to hide the truth."
Van Hollen's move comes amid reports the Senate GOP might have the votes to block witnesses and proceed to an up and down vote on the two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Democrats need all of their caucus and four Republicans to vote for permit Senate trial witnesses and/or commit to any witnesses Roberts seeks.
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