Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Monday renewed his call for witnesses to appear before the Senate during any future impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
The calls comes after The New York Times a story claiming emails indicate that some White House officials were knowledgable of and participated in the president’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine for up to 84 days, a central allegation in the House’s two articles of impeachment.
“This new story shows all four witnesses we Senate Democrats have requested—Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, Michael Duffey, and Robert Blair—were intimately involved and had direct knowledge of President Trump’s decision to cut off aid in order to benefit himself,” the New York Democrat said.
“And when you combine these new revelations with the explosive emails from Michael Duffey released last weekend, it makes the strongest case yet for a Senate trial to include the witnesses and documents we have requested,” Schumer said.
The minority leader was making reference to the Times’ reporting of emails that showed Duffey, an Office of Management and Budget official, told the Department of Defense to withhold the aid hours after President Donald Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
The president has repeatedly denied there was any quid pro quo demand for Zelensky to investigate potential 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and reported involvement of Democrat officials tied to the 2016 Clinton campaign in Ukraine-based election meddling, in exchange for the military aid.
Earlier this fall, the White House released a transcript of the phone call between the president and Zelensky, which did not show any demand for an investigation.
Also, on Friday, the Justice Department announced it had cleared the president of any wrongdoing regarding the phone call.
In addition, the department released another full transcript of the president’s conversation with Zelensky, which did show that he mentioned the Bidens. However, the transcript does not show that the president threatened to withhold military aid from Ukraine, as the whistleblower claimed and as Democrats continue to claim.
Trump told Zelensky that his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr would be reaching out to him regarding an investigation into Ukrainian corruption that could involve the Bidens.
“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General William Barr give you a call and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump said, according to a review of the transcript by the Washington Times.
The president also said it would be “great” if Ukraine would reopen a previous investigation into alleged corruption involving an energy company that was paying Hunter Biden tens of thousands per month to be a board member.
“The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that [Joe] Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” the president said, according to the transcript.
As for Schumer’s demand, White House officials have said that the decision to temporarily withhold military aid was not tied to the July 25 phone call.
Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters last week that some media outlets have engaged in “reckless” behavior in “[tying] the hold of funds to the phone call.”
“As has been established and publicly reported, the hold was announced in an interagency meeting on July 18,” she said. “To pull a line out of one email and fail to address the context is misleading and inaccurate.”