Trump's ex-chief of staff explains how Republicans are making a mistake by blocking impeachment witnesses

On Friday, Democrats who were hoping to see witnesses featured in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial — especially former National Security Adviser John Bolton — got some bad news: Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska had joined Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander in announcing that she was a “no” vote on witnesses. And on the Republican side, one person who is disappointed that the trial is likely to conclude without witnesses is former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly — who complained on Friday that a witness-free trial is merely “half a trial.”


Kelly, in an interview with NJ Advance Media, asserted, “In my view, they kind of leave themselves open to a lot of criticism. It seems it was half a trial.”

Kelly also said that he believes Bolton’s assertion that Trump made an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, a condition of military aid to Ukraine. Bolton, the New York Times has reported, makes this assertion in his book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir”  — which isn’t due out until March, though the Times has reported on an unpublished manuscript.

The former White House Chief of Staff, who worked with Bolton in Trump’s administration, noted that he found him to be “an honest guy and an honorable guy” as well as a “copious note taker.”

A poll by Quinnipiac released this week found that 75% of Americans favor featuring witnesses at Trump’s impeachment trial. Kelly said of that poll, “If I was advising the United States Senate, I would say, ‘If you don’t respond to 75% of the American voters and have witnesses, it’s a job only half done. You open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities.’”

Kelly, a retired U.S. Marine Corps general, held more than one position in Trump’s administration. Before serving as White House chief of staff from July 2017 until late 2018, Kelly was secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — a position later held by former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Michele Nielsen.

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