This fall, Sen. Cory Gardner refused to answer several local reporters who asked him a simple “yes or no” question: “Do you believe it’s appropriate for the president of the United States to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival?” The question he has been dodging is about to catch up with him when the Senate holds an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
The evidence of President Trump’s abuses of power is overwhelming. The House of Representatives has charged that, using the high powers of his office, President Trump solicited Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 Presidential election by asking the country’s president to announce an investigation that would benefit President Trump’s reelection. To secure that result, President Trump withheld important diplomatic meetings that Ukraine desperately sought, as well as hundreds of millions in military aid that was intended to help Ukraine — an important American friend— defend itself against deadly Russian aggression.
When President Trump was caught red-handed, he took unprecedented steps to stop the truth from coming out. Those efforts included a categorical refusal to comply with any document request or subpoena from Congress. This and other alarming episodes have demonstrated that President Trump believes he is above the law and is willing to continue engaging in conduct that would result in his imprisonment if he were any other American.
In the Senate’s impeachment trial, Sen. Gardner will be serving as juror in this special constitutional trial. In his capacity as an impartial juror, Gardner should vote to ensure that the trial is a serious effort to gather and understand the relevant facts about Trump’s abuses of power and to decide what to do about them.
Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins appear prepared to serve as impartial jurors in this case, and I salute their principled stand. Now, I call upon Sen. Gardner to follow the lead of Sens. Murkowski and Collins.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has requested that the Senate subpoena testimony from at least four witnesses , including acting chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who have direct knowledge of President Trump’s abuses of power. If Sen. Gardner and his colleagues are interested in and unafraid of the truth, they will vote to support these subpoenas.
The president and some of his allies have signaled that they are interested in turning the Senate trial into a circus. Instead of trying to argue that the president is innocent, the president’s defenders may try to distract and confuse the issues by using the trial to attack the whistleblower who initially reported President Trump’s misconduct or to further smear his political rival, Joe Biden. Sen. Gardner should vote to exclude evidence that is calculated to distract and detract from the solemn inquiry that he and his colleagues must undertake.
Sen. Gardner will take an oath at the outset of the trial to “do impartial justice.” This is a solemn oath that he should take seriously. It is the same responsibility that we ask of citizens serving on juries across our country: to set aside one’s prejudices and make a determination based on the facts that are presented to them. Unfortunately, several Republican senators have already made statements that are irreconcilable with this responsibility. Sen. Gardner will soon have to decide whether he will put loyalty to his party above the oath that he will take on behalf of the people of Colorado.
As a Republican former member of Congress, I lament the extent to which my party has jettisoned the values we have embraced for generations. Our president is a constant affront to family values, national security, the rule of law, and humility before God, and our party’s response has been to close ranks around him rather than call him out. If like me, Sen. Gardner believes in law and order, he will ensure that the Senate trial is both rigorous and fair to the president as well as the American public.
Along with the people of Colorado, I will be watching President Trump’s impeachment trial to see what kind of a juror Sen. Gardner will be, to see what values he embraces. Taking seriously one’s oath to do impartial justice does not mean acquitting the president at all costs.
Sen. Gardner: I call on you to take seriously the obligations you are about to assume and keep in mind the fundamental values that led you to a life of public service.
Claudine Schneider is a Republican former United States congresswoman and is a founding member of Republicans for Integrity which brings together Republican former members of Congress who seek to put “country before party.” A Colorado resident, she works with various national, nonpartisan, watchdog organizations and was one of the founding members of www.VoteSmart.org.