Three politicians from Louisiana to play critical roles in Trump’s impeachment trial

Published: Jan. 21, 2020 at 7:15 PM CST
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U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts swears in members of the Senate to serve as jurors for...
U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts swears in members of the Senate to serve as jurors for the president's impeachment trial.(Source: CNN video)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Three members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation have big roles to play in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump which is underway on Capitol Hill.

Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both Republicans, are jurors for the trial.

"We're going to be fair unlike the House process. The House process you know how I feel about it, it was rigged. Speaker Pelosi rigged it,” said Kennedy.

Congressman Mike Johnson of Shreveport, also a Republican, has been tapped to be a part of the president’s legal team for the trial taking place in the Senate. Johnson, a lawyer, argued vociferously against the impeachment of Trump by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last month.

"Before I got to Congress I litigated federal court cases, constitutional law cases for about 20 years, so I bring that experience and expertise to the table, and of course, I served on the House Judiciary Committee which was the committee of jurisdiction for impeachment,” said Johnson, of his role.

He said his involvement will stretch beyond the trial.

"Our role will be multi-faceted. We will be helping with the trial strategy, the development as it goes forward, but a lot of this will be inside the courtroom as it were, inside the Senate chamber but then also outside and it's not about image, it's about ensuring that the American people get the true facts,” said Johnson.

Trump is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his asking Ukraine’s president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and Biden’s son, Hunter.

Democrats say Trump tried to influence this year’s presidential election by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden.

Tulane University constitutional law Prof. Stephen Griffin said the trial is no small matter, especially where the president is concerned.

"I think it's a very important moment, let's put it for the Trump administration. I think what could be said in the trial and what's decided and not decided could have potentially a big impact not only on how the administration goes forward but what happens in the election,” Griffin said.

He said the way in which Trump’s lawyers argue for acquittal on the charges could affect legal precedent.

"Now whatever you think of what President Trump did, how they argue can set precedent if President Trump as many people anticipate is acquitted,” said Griffin. “So, they're arguing for example that presidents cannot be impeached except for a crime and this argument is both controversial, but it's never really been settled. The Trump impeachment would count as a precedent for that position if President Trump is acquitted."

Republicans say Trump is not charged with a crime and should not be on trial.

"There's no question that the House managers are not accusing the president of a crime, that's something they would agree with. Their point is the impeachment standard has never been interpreted to be limited to crimes,” said Griffin.

And then there is the question of whether actual witnesses will be called during the president's impeachment trial.

Kennedy said there will be a decision in coming days.

"We're going to have 16 hours of questions and answers by senators. Questions by senators, answers by the prosecution and the defense. We're all going to learn a lot. And then we'll make a decision about witnesses and additional documents,” said Kennedy.

Griffin said not having witnesses could be problematic for the Senate which has a majority of Republican members.

"I think that’s hard for them to explain how they’re having a trial with no witnesses,” he said.

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