Impeachment Pressure Mounts on Gardner After Bolton Revelations

Senator Cory Gardner during less stressful times.
Senator Cory Gardner during less stressful times. Brandon Marshall

As a critical vote on whether to seek additional witness testimony and evidence looms over the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner is once again feeling the heat — and still refusing to say much about it.

Soon after the approval of two articles of impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in December, top Republicans in the Senate signaled that they would seek to block efforts to subpoena new witnesses and documents in the trial phase, a significant departure from previous impeachment proceedings. Gardner voted to defeat eleven Democratic proposals to call witnesses and obtain documents from the Trump administration on January 21, and with a final vote on trial procedure expected within the next few days, has appeared unlikely to break with the GOP majority.

“We’ve heard a lot of impeachment witnesses,” Gardner told reporters on Capitol Hill last week, just before a set of elevator doors spared him from further questions.

But the pressure on Gardner and other Republicans has intensified following a New York Times report on the contents of a book manuscript by former national security advisor John Bolton, in which Bolton claims that Trump repeatedly and directly tied the release of nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to the launch of a corruption investigation into former vice president Joe Biden.

Representative Jason Crow, a Democrat from Aurora and one of seven House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump before the Senate, said in a press call on Monday, January 27, that the Bolton revelations only further confirm what Democrats and a substantial body of evidence have said since the Ukraine scandal broke in September.

“The manuscript apparently corroborates everything we’ve been talking about here the last few weeks,” Crow said. “It’s consistent with all of the witness testimony that we’ve been talking about, the documents we’ve been talking about, that show the president did indeed ask for a foreign government to interfere in our elections and withheld military aid to force them to do so. So that just underscores the need for Ambassador Bolton to testify.”

A spokesperson for Gardner did not respond to a request for comment. When asked Monday evening about trial procedure by CPR News, he did not answer directly.

While Gardner, who faces an uphill battle for re-election in 2020, continues to dodge questions on impeachment and his views on the president's conduct, Democratic activists are ratcheting up their pressure campaign, while an ad from the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans, calls Gardner a "small man terrified of a political bully." A tweet from the Colorado Democratic Party on Monday labeled Gardner's ongoing silence "pathetic."

“We now know what Amb. Bolton heard and saw,” tweeted former governor John Hickenlooper, the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to take on Gardner in November. “Senate Republicans are still preventing him from telling his story directly to America. Senate Republicans: allow Bolton to testify.”

Following a third and final day of opening arguments today, January 28, senators will be able to submit written questions to impeachment managers and Trump's legal team for up to two days, after which the Senate will hold a decisive vote on whether to continue the trial by seeking additional witnesses and documents.

If Republicans successfully block those attempts, a final vote on whether to convict or acquit Trump could come by the end of the week. Facing the unlikely prospect of securing the two-thirds majority necessary to convict and remove the president from office, Democrats stress that questions about Trump's conduct won't end with the impeachment trial.

“The American people will ultimately have a vote in this,” Crow told reporters on Monday. “There will be accountability for how people vote, and that’s why we’re speaking to the American people, too, during the course of this trial, because they should have a say, too.”
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Chase Woodruff is a staff writer at Westword interested in climate change, the environment and money in politics.
Contact: Chase Woodruff