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Cantwell, Fulcher agree that Senate should call extra witnesses in impeachment trial

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 16, 2020

From left, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., Rep. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., walk to the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. (Julio Cortez / AP)
From left, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., Rep. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., walk to the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. (Julio Cortez / AP)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Maria Cantwell, in the hours Thursday morning before the Senate’s impeachment trial was scheduled to begin, said she hoped additional witnesses would be called to testify.

“I think, wherever we sit on the Senate floor, we should be able to agree what the facts are,” Cantwell said in an interview on Capitol Hill. “You might not agree on the outcome and conclusion of where that takes you, you might have a difference of opinion.”

“I think (the people) think of the Senate as the deliberative body,” she continued. “And they want us to be deliberative. I think we have to rise to that occasion.”

The position puts her in line with fellow Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who also said Wednesday that additional witnesses should testify. It also puts her, at least partly, in agreement with Idaho Republican Rep. Russ Fulcher.

Cantwell didn’t say, specifically, where she’d draw the line on the number of witnesses. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled any votes on additional witnesses in the trial would occur after each side offers their opening statements, and Cantwell said she anticipated senators “would have a chance to decide that.”

Fulcher, who’s been critical of the impeachment process, said Thursday he’d spoken with Idaho’s two senators, Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, urging them to call any and all witnesses they could in the trial. He said that was the only way to correct what he believes was a rushed process by House Democrats to get the impeachment articles to the Senate.

“It’s a small minority, and I think it’s just a few, they want to dismiss as soon as possible,” Fulcher said. “Personally, I think it’s a mistake. My encouragement has been, get to the bottom of this.”

Fulcher acknowledged the House involvement in the process is over, but he hoped the Senate would call many witnesses, including Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistleblower whose account of the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky launched the current impeachment process in earnest.

“Expose what has really happened here, because if it is a political ploy – which personally I think it is – expose it. And if it’s not, expose that,” Fulcher said.

Both Fulcher and Cantwell said they hadn’t closely reviewed public comments made in recent days by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who has alleged he was acting in Ukraine with the knowledge of the president and U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

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