GOP senator says he's 'absolutely' open to having witnesses in impeachment trial

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) says he made a commitment to be an impartial juror in President Trump's impeachment trial. CNN's Dana Bash pressed the Senator on what that looks like.

Posted: Jan 22, 2020 7:30 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2020 7:30 PM

Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said Wednesday that he is "absolutely" open to having witnesses testify in President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial, a position that's at odds with many of his GOP colleagues who've pushed against having additional witnesses.

"I think it's very important to have a fair trial. I think that's what Mitch McConnell has committed (to). If you look at (Tuesday) night, what we said was we're going to go through this process just like we did with Clinton," Scott told CNN's Dana Bash in an interview on Capitol Hill, a reference to the Senate modeling its procedure after the 1999 Senate trial rules of then-President Bill Clinton. "You know, we're going to hear from both sides. We're going to ask questions and then we'll make a decision on witnesses."

LIVE UPDATES: Impeachment trial of President Trump

"Are you open to witnesses?" Bash asked.

"Oh absolutely. This is the process. This is what we all agreed to," Scott said.

Bash replied: "For real, open to witnesses?"

"Yeah. I would love to hear what happened with Hunter Biden," the senator said, referring to former Vice President Joe Biden's son. Asked if he also wants to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton, Scott said: "I'm open to witnesses but I think we ought to go through the right process."

Scott's comments were especially notable given that he's hasn't widely been considered in the group of senators open to voting to hear from witnesses. That pool has mainly consisted of Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkoski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring at the end of his term.

With the GOP controlling 53 seats to Democrats' 47, Democrats would need to win over at least four senators to vote to hear from witnesses in order to pass such a proposal.

RELATED: McConnell warns against witnesses in pitch for quick impeachment trial resolution

Republicans and Democrats have so far been divided along party lines on the issue of including witnesses in Trump's trial. Early Wednesday morning, the Republican-controlled Senate approved rules for the trial that delays the question of whether the Senate should subpoena witnesses and documents until later in the trial.

The resolution was passed after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed 11 amendments seeking to subpoena a trove of documents from the Trump administration and witnesses like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Bolton, but the amendments were thwarted almost entirely along party lines.

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