A top White House official said Wednesday that Trump would like to see a full trial and witnesses in the Senate chamber, should the impeachment fight shift to the other side of the Capitol in the coming weeks.
The comments from Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, signal that the White House is preparing for an aggressive trial with live witnesses on the Senate floor, rather than the videotaped depositions of witnesses that were ultimately entered into evidence during former president Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial in 1999.
“The president wants his case made fully in the Senate,” Ueland said after meeting with GOP senators on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
“In this instance, we believe very strongly — given the fatally flawed process in the House — that if they were to elect against our better advice [and] send over impeachment to the Senate, that we need witnesses as part of our trial and a full defense of the president on the facts,” added Ueland, pointing to the Senate chamber as he spoke to reporters.
When asked whether his hand gesture meant witnesses should testify in the actual Senate chamber, Ueland responded: “Thank you counsel. I have no objection.”
White House officials present at the Republican lunch on Capitol Hill – Ueland, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and impeachment strategy advisers Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh – did not delve into details of whom they would like called in the chamber as witnesses nor other details of the impending Senate trial, according to senators.
“All the issues remain the same: Sham process, the fight doesn’t deserve to even come over here but if it does, we’ll have to deal with it,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said, summing up the White House’s message to GOP senators.