Impeachment Trial To Start With Rules Fight

Marco Green
January 21, 2020

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer pledged to seek amendments to Monday's Republican proposal on impeachment trial hearing rules, amendments that would allow for the presentation of witness testimony and evidence pertaining to Donald Trump's communications with the president of Ukraine.

It is already easy to see what is likely to be the principal Democratic objection to the impeachment trial procedures resolution proposed by Senator McConnell.

Even before Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled in the session, Democrats warned that the rules package from Trump's ally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, could force midnight sessions that would keep most Americans in the dark and create a sham proceeding.

"This is the process if you do not want the American people to see the evidence", said Schiff, who led the investigation that resulted in Trump's December 18 impeachment by the House of Representatives.

The McConnell rules, he noted, "don't even allow the simple, basic step of admitting the House record into evidence at the trial".

These include tensions with Iran that almost boiled over into open war, an on-again, off-again trade war with China, Trump's so-far failed outreach to North Korea, concerns about a repeat of Russian interference in a USA election and strains with traditional allies in Europe and elsewhere.

Democrats say Trump's conduct is precisely what the country's Founding Fathers had in mind when they created the mechanism to impeach and remove a president from power.

A pivotal event in the impeachment case is Trump's July 25 call to Zelensky asking Ukraine's president to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, meddled in the 2016 election.

On Sunday Trump's legal team issued a 110-page defense which claimed the House has accused him of no specific "crime", that their investigation was a "rigged process", and that Trump was within his rights to push Ukraine to investigate Biden.

The Republicans have previously floated the idea of having Joe Bien and his son Hunter, who are also at the centre of the scandal, testify in the Senate.

The rare impeachment trial, unfolding in an election year, is testing whether Trump's actions toward Ukraine warrant removal at the same time that voters are forming their own verdict his White House.

They said the president's behaviour "is the Framers' worst nightmare", referring to the authors of the US Constitution, and that Trump deserves to be removed from office.

At the end of the trial, the chamber will hold a vote on whether to convict and remove Trump from office. The president is now in the Swiss town of Davos for the four-day annual gathering of the World Economic Forum.

The first full day of the Trump impeachment trial will be dominated by a partisan fighting over the rules of the proceedings.

Oral arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday - that's if the Senate adopts the rules resolution on Tuesday. This would include deciding whether the Senate should at a later date consider subpoenas for witnesses, such as Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton.

The money was released without any investigations being undertaken - and, they say, Zelenskiy didn't even know it had been suspended until shortly before it was released, even though USA officials testified to House investigators that Ukraine had inquired about the delay. And multiple government agencies, including the State and Energy departments, followed the lead of the White House and refused to turn over documents.

If that happens, the trial could be wrapped up in less than three weeks, especially in light of the breakneck pace anticipated by Senator McConnell's resolution.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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