Schumer will 'hope, pray' some in GOP will vote for impeachment trial witnesses

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is interviewed on "This Week."
8:25 | 01/05/20

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Transcript for Schumer will 'hope, pray' some in GOP will vote for impeachment trial witnesses
How can you judge a trial in which you have already stated an opinion or have an opinion? You would be thrown off a jury in any court of America. This isn't a criminal trial but this is something that the founding fathers decided to put in a body that was susceptible to the whims of politics. It's not like a jury box in the sense that people will call us and lobby us. You don't have jurors call, lobby and things like that. It's quite different than a jury. Senator chuck Schumer back in 1999 discussing president Clinton's impeachment trial. He's now the top Democrat in the senate. As they prepare for the impeachment trial of president trump. Welcome to "This week," senator Schumer. I want to talk about that. But first, Iran. Secretary of state Pompeo said that America and the world is safer today. Do you agree? I really worry the actions the president took will get us into what he calls another "Endless war" in the middle East. He promised we wouldn't have that. I think we're closer to that now because of his actions. Look, there are so many questions that are unanswere that have to be answered. Among them at the top of the list, what do we know Iran has in its range of retaliations and how are we going to prepare for let's face it, this president has made a mess of foreign policy. North Korea, they're much stronger than they were when he started. In sar he messed up. So, I'm really worried and that's why congress must assert itself. I don't believe the president has authority to go to war in Iraq without congressional -- You just heard secretary of state Pompeo, he said they do. I don't believe that. I'll do everything I can to assert our authority. We don't need this president either bumbling or compulsively getting us into a war. The reason the founding fathers said congress had to okay it, because it's a check on a president who's doing so many wrong things. His foreign policy has been erratic and unsuccessful thus far. I worry it still is. You heard secretary Pompeo say they're cleaning up the mess in Iran left by Obama. You were initially against the Iran nuclear agreement. Yeah, but the bottom line is very simple here, president bush hardly a dove. President Obama had an opportunity to take out soleimani. They didn't. The reasons don't seem very clear. The document they sent us last night is very unsatisfying. I can't talk about it because it's classified. Whatever they're doing is unusual here. There was no consultation. Every other president I served under the leaders are called ahead of time. The founding fathers wanted congress, they gave congress the war powers, the warmaking authority because they wanted a check on the executive. This executive seems to have no check and again, he's been erratic and unsuccessful in almost every previous foreign policy endeavor. This one is the most dangerous of all. We need congress to be a check on this president. You mentioned no consultation. I showed Pompeo that retweet from president trump. That you weren't consulted for the same reason why the Irans weren't. This is the foolishness that the president engages in. Let's talk about impeachment. This impeachment -- let me take one step, when these articles come over the focus will be on four Republican senators. First, the charges as you know are grave. For the president to withhold aid so that a foreign power can interfere in our elections and benefit him is one of things the founding fathers were most worried about when they wrote the constitution. They gave congress the ultimate power, the senate and the house, of impeachment. If we're not going to have a fair trial, if all the facts aren't going to come out and if we're not going to hear the truth, America has changed and the power of an overweaning executive is far too great. Mcconnell won't go for a fair trial. You can't have a fair trial without witnesses and documents, particularly who were right at the scene of the charges. But four Republican senators can join us. We have the ability to require votes on the four witnesses we have asked for, whether there's agreement or not. We have the ability to ask for the documents and I hope, pray, and believe there's a decent chance that four Republicans will join us. If they do we'll have a fair trial. We don't know what these witnesses will say. It may be exculpatory or further condemning the president. We'll let the chips fall. You heard senator Mcconnell say, let's follow the Clinton example, first two weeks, have the arguments from the lawyers for both sides and then have a vote. And then consider whether witnesses come forward. What's wrong with that? Where but in Alice in wonderland hear all the arguments and then have the witnesses. That's the Clinton model. But the Clinton model is different. Two reasons. One, they were heard from already. These are four witnesses who are eyewitness to the main charge against the president that he withheld the aid for political benefit. Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton -- It's not secretary Pompeo. It's Blair, it's Duffey. In the last two weeks look at what's come out. Duffey said, we have to hush out why the president -- and then he said, this directly came from the president, shouldn't that man testify? 64% of Republicans agree. So I'm hopeful that our Republican colleagues will come forward. I'll add one thing, if they vote for witnesses, if four of them join us to get witnesses and documents, it doesn't mean that they're going to vote to convict the president. We'll hear all the evidence. It may be exculpatory or further condemning the president. Then the chips will fall where they may. If the president is acquitted through a sham trial, through a mock trial, where there are no witnesses, where everything is covered up that will not be -- that will not stand him well with the American people. You criticized senator Mcconnell for working hand in glove with the white house. Here's his response on the senate floor. A problem that I discussed trial mechanics with the white house. Even as my counterpart, the democratic leader is openly coordinating political strategy with the speaker, who some might call the prosecution. Does he have a point? No, there's always consultation. People can discuss things. He said he's taking his orders from the white house. We senate Democrats aren't taking our orders from anybody. We have come to the view that we need the truth and nothing but the truth. Jack Webb, just the facts. You may remember that, even though you're younger than me. That's all we want. Now, is there consultation? Yes. I have never heard a senate leader say I'm taking my orders from the white house. The white house is engaged in a massive cover-up. Americans are asking, what are they afraid of? Do you want the articles of impeachment in the senate this week? Look, I think speaker Pelosi has done a very good job here. She had said that she'll send the articles of impeachment when she believes she'll maximize sending them to get the fairest trial possible. If she sent them right away, Mcconnell could have voted for dismissal. The day before or after Christmas. In the last two weeks without the articles lot of new evidence that bolster our case for witnesses and documents has come out. "The New York Times" article named the four people we had requested as witnesses. The bottom line is very simple, we need the truth not a cover-up, not a sham, not to have some nationally televised mock trial where there's no evidence. Senator Schumer, thanks for your time this morning. Great to be here, George.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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