WASHINGTON — Senate leaders remained at an impasse Thursday over the scope of an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, as his reelection campaign claimed that a backlash from the House proceedings had helped him raise $46 million in the final three months of 2019.
Aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the two men had not spoken over the holidays about the standoff.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has held off sending the two articles of impeachment — for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate. Democrats are seeking guarantees about witnesses and documents that will be subpoenaed regarding Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.
At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Schumer on Thursday seized on a new report that cited unredacted emails that bolster the case that Trump was directly involved in withholding military aid to Ukraine as he was seeking investigations that could benefit him politically.
The report by Kate Brannen was published by Just Security. It referenced an email from Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, to Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, on Aug. 30, a little more than a month after Trump pressed Zelensky for investigations during a July phone call.
In the email, which followed a meeting with Trump that included senior administration officials, Duffey told McCusker, “Clear direction from POTUS to hold.”
A redacted version of that email — and several others cited in the report by Brannen, a veteran Pentagon reporter — had been made public as the result of Freedom of Information Act litigation.
“The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Senator McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested,” Schumer said in a statement Thursday. “These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself.”
Schumer has sought guarantees from McConnell that several administration officials will be subpoenaed to testify in a Senate trial who declined to participate in House impeachment proceedings, including Duffey. McConnell has said the Senate should decide on what if any witnesses to call after hearing opening statements from House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers.
Schumer said the unredacted emails raise “questions that can only be answered by having the key Trump administration officials . . . testify under oath in a Senate trial.”
“The American people deserve a fair trial that gets to the truth, not a rigged process that enables a cover-up,” Schumer said.
McConnell has also said that he would be unconcerned if a trial never takes place.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said Thursday that he plans to introduce a resolution next week aimed at dismissing the “bogus” impeachment of Trump. In a tweet, Hawley accused Democrats of seeking to avoid a trial “because they have no evidence.”
Since the House has not sent over the articles to the Senate, however, it was not immediately clear how Hawley’s resolution would dismiss them. Hawley’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv announced Thursday that Kristina Kvien has succeeded William Taylor as the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Taylor, who was among the key witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry, delivered farewell remarks in a video message of his own on Tuesday in which he declared that he is “very optimistic about Ukraine” and welcomed the news of Kvien’s promotion.
Kvien, who had previously been the embassy’s deputy chief of mission, said in a video message posted on Twitter that she is “honored to be serving now as U.S. Embassy Kiev chargé d’affaires.”
Trump has yet to announce his pick for the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
But Trump’s reelection campaign announced Thursday that it raised $46 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, a total that campaign officials said was bolstered by donations that accelerated during the impeachment proceedings led by House Democrats.
“President Trump’s unprecedented fundraising is testament to his wide grassroots support and his stellar record of achievement on behalf of the American people,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Democrats and the media have been in a sham impeachment frenzy and the President’s campaign only got bigger and stronger with our best fundraising quarter this cycle.”
The Trump campaign said the figure it released Thursday includes only funds raised by Trump’s campaign committee and not those raised by the Republican National Committee or any authorized joint fundraising committees.
The figure eclipsed those released by Thursday by some Democratic candidates, though it is typical for a sitting president to outraise challengers from the other party at this point in the cycle.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he raised $34.5 million in the final three months of 2019 for his White House bid. Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said he raised $24.7 million and business executive Andrew Yang said he raised $16.5 million during the stretch.
Candidates have until Jan. 31 to file fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, but those with impressive figures typically share their totals soon after a quarter ends.
Trump arrived at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday morning. He had no events on his official schedule, and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for information about his activities for the day.
Earlier in the day, he returned to Twitter deride Democrats for impeaching him, calling the process a “partisan Witch Hunt” that “is hurting our Country” and “bringing more division than ever!”
On Friday, the president plans to return to the public eye on Friday, with an event in Miami marking the launch of the Evangelicals for Trump Coalition. The group’s formation comes in the wake of an editorial last month in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today calling for Trump’s removal from office.
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The Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.