UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that he will not honor Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s request for witnesses.
“It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty,'” McConnell said, per reporting from Politico.
The original article regarding comments from Rep. Francis Rooney appears below…
A Republican lawmaker from Florida is urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to honor requests made by his counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to include additional witnesses in the impending proceedings of a Senate impeachment trial.
Schumer had originally made a request for four witnesses, including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, in a letter he wrote to McConnell.
Schumer noted that House managers were allowed to call their own witnesses in the trial of former President Bill Clinton, and for things to be “fair,” McConnell should allow the same to happen this time around for the Senate trial of President Donald Trump.
Both houses of Congress were controlled by Republicans when Clinton faced impeachment, while the House is presently controlled by Democrats and the Senate by Republicans.
A Republican congressman from Florida stated on Tuesday morning that he agreed with Schumer’s requests.
Rep. Francis Rooney, who has stated in the past he’s been “open” to hearing arguments in favor of impeachment (and is currently listed as the only Republican who is undecided on the issue, according to the New York Times), explained in an interview with CNN why he wanted McConnell to acquiesce to Schumer’s ask.
.@jimsciutto: “Should McConnell accept Schumer's request for these witnesses to testify if they are, in your view, key to getting the facts here?”
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) December 17, 2019
Questioned on whether those witnesses should be allowed or compelled to testify, Rooney said McConnell ought to take up Schumer’s charge.
“I definitely think he should. I think the difference with the Clinton impeachment was those witnesses had already testified on the House side of things,” Rooney said.
Rooney is not yet sold on impeachment, however, and his past votes have indicated he might still vote against impeachment later this week when a full House vote comes up. Rooney voted against an impeachment resolution in October, the Fort Myers News-Press noted.