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Sen. Johnson already frustrated by impeachment trial

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks to reporters on the first full day of the impeachment trial of...
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks to reporters on the first full day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)(NBC15)
Published: Jan. 22, 2020 at 1:28 PM CST
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Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson is frustrated after day one of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump but vows to remain impartial during the process.

“The House was in a rush to do this impeachment and from my standpoint they did a pretty sloppy job,” Sen. Johnson told Wisconsin reporters in a conference call. “Now they want the Senate to do their job for them. That’s really what the argument was all day yesterday. They are asking us to do what they should have done in a more thorough inquiry,”

The Democratic prosecutors will have 24 hours total to present their case against the president. That time will be spread out over three days. Then the President’s legal team will have the same amount of time to present their side. A big question remains though: will the Senate be hearing from key witnesses? Johnson, a Republican, wouldn’t commit his support to hearing any testimony.

“We will determine that at the end of this first phase. We will let the House put on its case and the President put on his case,” said Sen. Johnson. “And I’ve read both briefs and I don’t expect to hear much more new information than what is already in those briefs. And then we can ask questions so we will make that decision later,”

At the center of this impeachment trial is a phone call President Trump had with President Zelensky of Ukraine. Democrats allege the president withheld government money and aid to Ukraine unless President Zelenksy committed to investigating his political rival Joe Biden. Sen. Johnson says he doesn’t believe the president did anything wrong.

“They (Democrats) are putting the worst possible construction on what this President did. I talked to the President. I understand why he was doing what he was doing. I didn’t agree with him. I was trying to change his mind but I think he had legitimate reasons and I don’t view his motives as improper,”

Sen. Johnson isn’t sure when the trial might end, but believes it could wrap up next week.

“From my standpoint, the final motion of this trial should be to proceed to the final vote. I don’t think we should just vote to dismiss. I think we should be able to convict or exonerate the president. That could happen as early as next week, depending on the case both sides present,” said Johnson.

“That is really kind of what it is unfortunate about this moment in history is that we are such a divided country and the division lines are so hardening and I hate that fact,” he added.