The Senate impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump began this week with the Republican-led body blocking Democratic efforts to subpoena key witnesses and documents, thereby restricting the introduction of new evidence. Now, Fox News and Republicans are pointing to a lack of new evidence as proof that Democrats don’t have a case.
On January 21, Republicans rejected 11 Democratic amendments to Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) proposed rules for the trial. Some rejected amendments would have issued subpoenas for key witnesses including former White House national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Republicans also blocked Democratic attempts to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Office of Management and Budget related to the impeachment inquiry.
Now, Fox News guests and hosts are pointing to the lack of new information or evidence as proof that the Democrats don’t have a case. Fox personalities have also repeatedly characterized the hearing as “boring,” and the network has provided a platform for Republican members of Congress -- particularly those close to the impeachment case -- to repeat the same talking points on air.
- As he summarized the hearing for his audience, Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity proclaimed that there was “nothing new today. Not one new piece of information.” On multiple occasions, Hannity berated Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead House manager presenting the impeachment case in the Senate, for “repeating over and over and over and over again incoherently” and complained that he’s “monotonous, repetitive,” and “boring.”
- Later in the same show, Hannity hosted Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), two members of Trump’s impeachment team. Hannity told them that he’s found that “there is nothing new” in the Senate trial. Meadows agreed with Hannity, saying, “We didn’t hear anything new.” He added that Schiff “repeated himself more times than a Geico commercial.”
- Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson hosted Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) on January 22, who claimed that Democrats are “not even trying to put on evidence, they don’t have any evidence.” Carlson didn't challenge Hawley on the point; he responded saying that he was trying to take the trial seriously but that it seemed to be a “mockery.”
- Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz bemoaned on the January 23 edition of Fox & Friends that the Senate trial had thus far produced “no new evidence” and “had nothing to do with actually proving the facts.”
- Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy asked his guest, former federal prosecutor Brett Tolman, if Democrats are “losing the audience” by “repeating the same information over and over.” Tolman responded that “colleagues and friends in the Senate” have told him that they expected to “hear a litany of concerning evidence,” but the Democrats have turned up short.
- America’s Newsroom on January 23 hosted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who claimed that the trial “seems to drag on” as the House Democrats “repeat themselves time and time again.” He added, “If they had strong evidence, though, I think they’d simply present that evidence and let it speak for itself. But they don’t.” Cotton repeated his argument that Democrats don’t have a case because “what we heard yesterday were repetitive arguments over and over again based on little more than hearsay.” Co-anchor Sandra Smith did not note that Republicans have blocked key testimony and evidence.
- On January 21, Fox prime-time host Laura Ingraham hosted Meadows and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY). Gaetz told Ingraham that Republicans learned “absolutely nothing” because there has been “no new evidence, no new information.”
- The following night, Ingraham hosted Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) after Wednesday’s trial concluded, and he told her that “it’s boring” and that “they’re not saying anything new.” Scott added that different Democrats just “show up and show the same video and say the same thing.”