House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) clashed with White House lawyers during a marathon debate over rules for the Senate impeachment trial that dragged past midnight Tuesday night.
Nadler, speaking for the first time from the Senate floor as one of the House impeachment managers, argued that Republicans and President Trump were “afraid” to let former national security adviser John Bolton testify because “they know he knows too much.”
“Ambassador Bolton is a firsthand witnesses to President Trump‘s abuse of power,” Nadler said, characterizing Bolton as the “tip of the spear on national security.”
Nadler added that if the Senate blocked Bolton from testifying, Republicans would be participating in a “cover-up.”
White House legal counsel Pat Cipollone lashed out at Nadler moments later, saying he was making “false allegations.”
“You don’t deserve and we don’t deserve what just happened,” Cipollone said while addressing senators.
“The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you,” Cipollone added, sparking applause from within the chamber, though it was unclear where it came from.
Nadler quickly fired back at Cipollone and fellow Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, who had turned and yelled at the Judiciary Committee chairman. “The president’s counsel has no standing to talk about lying,” Nadler said.
The back-and-forth drew a public admonishment from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the Senate trial, who said both sides should remember “that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
“I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts added.
The tense exchange came as House impeachment managers and the White House counsel debated a Democratic amendment to the rules resolution seeking to subpoena Bolton’s testimony.
The measure was rejected in a party-line vote, along with several other Democratic amendments as the hours-long debate entered the early morning hours of Wednesday.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was forcing a slew of votes to try to change the GOP rules resolution, as well as shoehorn in language calling specific witnesses and requiring the administration to hand over documents about its efforts to hold up aid to Ukraine last year.
Republicans have rejected the Democratic amendments. The rules resolution being debated late Tuesday does not guarantee that additional witnesses or documents will be called. Instead, it sets up a vote after opening arguments and questions from senators on whether or not witnesses and documents will be in order.
Bolton has emerged as a prime target for Democrats after he reversed himself to offer to testify in the impeachment trial if he is subpoenaed. His lawyer has said that he would have information relevant to the two impeachment articles and the months-long probe into Trump’s decision to delay the aid to Ukraine.