A Senate vote to end President Donald Trump’s impeachment drama without calling any witnesses is “half a trial,” former White House chief of staff John Kelly said Friday.
In an interview with NJ Advance Media before the Senate voted against any witnesses at the trial, Kelly expressed the view that senators would “kind of leave themselves open to a lot of criticism.”
“It seems it was half a trial,” Kelly said.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, three-quarters of U.S. voters supported calling witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, with 20% opposed.
“If I was advising the United States Senate, I would say, 'If you don’t respond to 75% of the American voters and have witnesses, it’s a job only half done,” he said. “You open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities.”
Kelly also suggested that once the impeachment trial ends -- Wednesday is being widely discussed as the likely end point and a final vote on House articles of impeachment -- Trump should invite the congressional leaders of both parties to the White House and move ahead on issues such as infrastructure.
“If I was there, I’d recommend the president have leadership over and say, ‘OK, now that this is behind us, let’s talk,’” Kelly told the news outlet. “We can maybe take a breath over the weekend and make a commitment to each other. It would be such a wonderful outreach.”
But with the next presidential election just 10 months away, “it’s unlikely to happen,” he said.
Kelly recently found himself caught up in the impeachment whirlwind when, in an appearance in Sarasota, Florida, he said he believed an upcoming memoir by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton was accurate. The book makes claims that the president explicitly connected aid to Ukraine to a promise from Kyiv to investigate political rivals including former Vice President Joe Biden.
Democrats who built their impeachment around Trump's Ukraine interactions had been pressing for Bolton to testify in the Senate trial before Friday's vote to forgo witness testimony.
On Friday, the Senate voted 51-49, largely along party lines, to shut the door on calling witnesses in the impeachment investigation. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah were the only Repubicans to break with their party.
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