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Cardin condemns Senate vote on witnesses in impeachment trial

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, speaks at the University of Baltimore School of Law on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (The Daily Record / Louis Krauss)

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, speaks at the University of Baltimore School of Law on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (The Daily Record / Louis Krauss)

History will render a harsh judgment on the U.S. Senate’s handling of its impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin said Monday, two days before the Senate is expected to vote on whether to acquit or convict Trump of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

On Friday, the Senate voted against hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial.

Speaking at a news conference at the University of Baltimore School of Law Monday morning, Cardin, D-Maryland, said that while future scholars may debate whether Trump committed impeachable offenses, he suspects there will be little doubt that the Senate failed to uphold the Constitution by not hearing witnesses or reviewing evidence.

“I suspect there will be no disagreement that the United States Senate failed in its constitutional responsibilities, and that’s a sad moment,” Cardin said.

The impeachment charges are based on allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and to look into a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Cardin said he would vote in favor of conviction on both charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He also said he agreed with the general consensus that Trump will likely be acquitted Wednesday by the Republican-majority Senate.

Cardin called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., saying he “showed no interest in listening to a fair process.”

“McConnell was listening to President Trump and wasn’t even listening to his own members,” Cardin said incredulously. “He’s responsible for creating a non-objective process dictated by the president rather than the Senate.”

The Senate vote Friday on witnesses hewed closely to party lines, with 51 of the 53 Republican senators voting against hearing from witnesses or reviewing documentary evidence and all 47 Democratic senators voting in favor.

Alana Quint, a third-year law student at the University of Baltimore, said she agreed with Cardin that the trial was not fair.

“It’s crazy,” Quint said. “If somebody was on trial for murder and presented no evidence or witnesses, that’s not a trial.”

Asked if Trump’s impeachment trial will set any precedents for future presidents and impeachment proceedings, Cardin said he is worried it will.

“As Congressman (Adam) Schiff said in his comments, we’ll now have the ‘Trump principle,’ where we can’t hear witnesses in the Senate, but I don’t think that will last very long,” Cardin said.

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