Wednesday, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) said that he will not support bringing additional witnesses in the Senate’s impeachment trial against President Donald J. Trump.
“I do not believe we need to hear from an 18th witness,” Gardner said. “I have approached every aspect of this grave constitutional duty with the respect and attention required by law, and have reached this decision after carefully weighing the House managers and defense arguments and closely reviewing the evidence from the House, which included well over 100 hours of testimony from 17 witnesses.”
Democrats are clamoring for further witnesses to be called in the Senate trial, despite not allowing Republicans to bring their own witnesses to the House hearings on impeachment.
But Gardner’s statement signifies something deeper than toeing the party line.
Gardner once vowed to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 if then-candidate Trump didn’t step aside after the release of the infamous Billy Bush tape — and he might have done just that.
“I will not vote for Donald Trump,” he said in Oct. 2016.
“If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so — step aside, and allow Mike Pence to be the Republican party’s nominee. If he fails to do so, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton but will instead write-in my vote for Mike Pence,” he continued.
Gardner has often gone against the grain during the Trump administration’s first term.
Notably, he co-sponsored the Broader Options for Americans Act in 2018, authored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), that would have given amnesty to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, commonly known as “Dreamers.”
President Trump opposed the bill.
But Gardner truly entered the spotlight during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. He was one of a handful of Senators who considered voting against Kavanaugh’s confirmation after salacious and unverified rumors about improper sexual behavior in high school and college were raised by leftist activists in a last minute attempt to stop Kavanaugh from taking the bench on the nation’s highest court.
His skepticism of Kavanaugh arose from an anonymous letter he received alleging improper sexual behavior by the now-Supreme Court Justice in 1998. The letter, which was not signed and had no return address, was allegedly written by a mother on behalf of her daughter who resided in Boulder, CO.
“Her friend was dating him, and they left the bar under the influence of alcohol,” the letter claimed. “They were all shocked when Brett Kavanaugh shoved her friend up against the wall very aggressively and sexually. There were at least four witnesses, including my daughter. Her friend, still traumatized, called my daughter yesterday, September 21, 2018, wondering what to do about it. They decided to remain anonymous.”
Upon receiving the letter, Gardner’s office made it public, stirring up a media frenzy.
Kavanaugh responded incredulously.
“No, and we’re dealing with an anonymous letter about an anonymous person and an anonymous friend,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. Total twilight zone. And no, I’ve never done anything like that.”
Gardner has never been reliably in lockstep with President Trump. He’s certainly not considered a “go-to” elected official when President Trump wants to get something done in Congress. He is often placed among the ranks of Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) as a member of the centrist wing of the GOP.
And that’s exactly what makes his Wednesday declaration against new witnesses so powerful during the impeachment trial.
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