Donald Trump Must Be Cross-Examined In Impeachment Trial, Says Former Watergate Prosecutor

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on in the Oval Office of the White House as he meets with U.S. Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who has announced he is switching from the Democratic to Republican Party, on December 19, 2019 in Washington, DC.
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Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman, who previously predicted Donald Trump‘s downfall from Gordon Sondland’s testimony, recently penned an op-ed for Newsweek about the upcoming Senate trial into the president’s behavior. Akerman highlights Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s purported attempt to avoid a “real trial” and suggests that this stems from fear of pressure to call Trump as a witness, which means cross-examination.

“There is no dispute that the witness with the most material knowledge of the facts surrounding the alleged shakedown of Ukraine is Donald J. Trump,” Akerman wrote, noting Trump’s July call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which the president claims was “perfect” despite accusations of leveraging foreign aid to pressure Zelensky.

“The problem for Trump is that his lies and obfuscation cannot withstand a vigorous cross-examination of the facts,” Akerman added.

Akerman highlighted Trump’s use of Rudy Giuliani to help head his alleged pressure campaign, as well as the president’s reported lack of interest in fighting corruption in Ukraine. While Trump claims he was using foreign aid to secure investigations into his political rivals, Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, Sondland’s testimony suggested the president was only interested in the announcement of such investigations – not the inquiries themselves.

The lawyer also claims that McConnell might not be able to control the format of the impeachment trial, as he appears to be suggesting. According to Akerman, the rules may fall into the hands of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts, the public official designated to preside over the impeachment trial, per the Constitution.

“The final rules of the trial may ultimately rest with Justice Roberts to call ‘balls and strikes,’ as he famously described how he viewed his role as a Supreme Court Justice at his confirmation hearing, and whose legal and moral authority would have to be overruled by 51 senators.”

Akerman has also been critical of Attorney General William Barr, who has been slammed by some for approaching his role from a partisan position. Akerman said that Barr is “up to his eyeballs” in corruption due to his proximity to Trump — a position that was echoed by former federal prosecutor Michael J. Stern.

Stern suggested that — like McConnell — Barr has aligned himself with the White House and is attempting to protect the man who assigned him to his position: Trump. Stern added that he believes Barr is taking every chance he can to tip the scales to favor the president, noting that this isn’t how the attorney general is supposed to operate.