On Tuesday, in a meeting with top Republicans in the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had a brilliant suggestion on how to move forward with the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump: Give Democrats exactly what they want. Cruz argued that if Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were so desperate to call witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton, Republicans should go ahead and let them…for a price.
Cruz suggested the idea of a “witness reciprocity” deal with the Democrats. In other words, for every witness that the minority calls to testify, Republicans get to call one of their own. You want to hear from Bolton? Great, we’ll call Joe Biden. You want to hear from White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney? Super, we’ll get Hunter Biden in here to talk about his job with Burisma.
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Cruz said the plan was only fair.
“If the Senate decides to allow the prosecution to call yet more witnesses – after all the witnesses they had in the House, they now want to call more witnesses – the defense needs to be able to call at a minimum an equal number of witnesses, and witnesses of their choice,” Cruz said.
It goes without saying why this is such a genius proposition. For one, it avoids any unpleasantness with the handful of Republicans who are now on record saying they support the idea of calling witnesses. This week, a few Democrats even expressed hope that they had a 51-member majority ready to vote to call Bolton and others to testify. By offering this sensible compromise, Cruz and Sen. Mitch McConnell can appeal to the fairness of Romney, Collins, and the other play-the-fence moderates.
Two, it puts Democrats in a really tough spot. They want anything – anything – other than to put the Bidens, Adam Schiff, or, Lord help them, the whistleblower himself up on the witness stand. So they are now in a position to argue that, for some reason, John Bolton’s testimony (which could be as simple as, I have no idea what Trump wanted from Ukraine) is integral to the proceedings, but Eric Ciaramella’s is not. We’d love to hear that logic.
In remarks to the press, McConnell seemed receptive to Cruz’s plan.
“We’ll be dealing with the witness issue at the appropriate time into the trial. And I think it’s certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses if they wanted to hear from them,” he said. “So if you get to that issue, I can’t imagine that only the witnesses our Democratic colleagues want to call will be called.”
We’ll see if Democrats take the deal…or further cement their reputations on abject hypocrites.
Somehow, we already know the answer.