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President Trump impeachment trial: Oklahoma senators see no need for witnesses, White House documents





Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., talks to reporters as he arrives at the Senate for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. [AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana]
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., talks to reporters as he arrives at the Senate for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. [AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana]

As the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump got underway, Oklahoma’s senators voted Tuesday against requiring the White House and other agencies to turn over documents and said they saw no reason to hear from witnesses.

“I don’t feel an obligation to go search for additional information and additional witnesses and additional pieces beyond what (House Democrats) already sent us,” said Sen. James Lankford, a Republican.

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe said Democrats want to call witnesses at the trial to “in order to try to string this out to adversely affect the reelection of our president.”

Inhofe said,” My vote would be not to have additional witnesses because they had 17 witnesses … I think they’ve had enough witnesses and we need to get on with it.”

The Senate is scheduled to hear opening arguments on Wednesday after establishing rules for the trial that include admitting the evidence gathered by the House before it voted on Dec. 18 for two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Inhofe and Lankford joined all other Republicans in voting down 11 Democratic proposals to subpoena potential witnesses and to subpoena documents from the White House, Department of State and other entities in regard to whether Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on that country conducting an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Senate trial on whether to remove the president from office is expected to last into next week and possibly longer, depending on what decisions are made after opening arguments and follow-up questions from senators.

Removing the president would require the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, which, barring unforeseen disclosures or events, is highly unlikely given that the majority of the Senate is Republican.

Lankford and Inhofe said in interviews on Tuesday that Trump’s actions did not merit impeachment and that, unlike the previous two presidents who stood trial in the Senate, Trump had committed no crime.

Lankford said, “The first question the Senate has to actually resolve is: Is that phone call impeachable?” Do you remove a president from office based on that phone call?”

The Senate did not remove Andrew Johnson in 1869 or Bill Clinton in 1999 because their crimes did not merit removal, Lankford said.

“This is a different kind of trial,” Lankford said. “It’s not just about guilt or innocence ... You could have some folks in a normal trial be convicted guilty but then have a very light punishment. That's not so in this one. The only decision that the Senate has is: Should the president be removed from office or not? Does it rise to that level?”

Inhofe said Trump was acting within his authority in his dealings with the Ukraine president last year. Inhofe said he would prefer the trial to end before the State of the Union address on Feb. 4 and that the outcome was likely a foregone conclusion.

“I would say that’s true unless there’s new evidence that comes up,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it would be, any evidence that they could find that they did not find in all of those weeks that led up to this point. I would say I can’t imagine votes being changed unless there’s new evidence.”

NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the votes of Inhofe and Lankford on all of the Democratic proposals debated Tuesday and early Wednesday morning.

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<strong>Inhofe</strong>

Inhofe

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e6532ebb8e587f32db663d638772cfb3.jpg" alt="Photo - Inhofe " title=" Inhofe "><figcaption> Inhofe </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c097104d58a969969194d459b141e4e5.jpg" alt="Photo - Lankford " title=" Lankford "><figcaption> Lankford </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b26401f37081d029fb61b443856055d3.jpg" alt="Photo - Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., talks to reporters as he arrives at the Senate for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. [AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana] " title=" Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., talks to reporters as he arrives at the Senate for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. [AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana] "><figcaption> Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., talks to reporters as he arrives at the Senate for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. [AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana] </figcaption></figure>
Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›

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