After tweaks, Trump trial format will be similar to Clinton

Marco Green
January 22, 2020

The US Senate has voted to approve the rules governing the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, including delaying a debate over whether to call witnesses until the middle of the trial. In the first vote of the trial, Republicans rejected a bid by the democrats to force the White House to produce more documents and evidence. "I voted for the one live eyewitness the House has asked for and I voted to allow the videotaping of the witnesses they asked for". "It is the President's belief that ... he can do anything he wants, no matter how corrupt, outfitted in gaudy legal clothing". The Senate should not be forced to fix the shortcomings of the House impeachment proceedings, Trump's lawyers argued.

Trump's legal team, led by White House Counsel Pat Cippolone, argued the House impeachment investigation was partisan, lacked due process and took shortcuts to speed up the probe.

His argument was; with the night getting late, the debates taking time, and the voting patterns a foregone conclusion, it would be best to get it all done quickly at once.

After President Trump released the transcript of a phone call between himself and President Zelensky a year ago in an attempt to show he was innocent of the allegations House Democrats alleged were grounds for impeachment, Schiff delivered his own fictional version of what President Trump said in the call as part of his opening statement at a House Intelligence Committee hearing.

Only the third president in history to face trial for removal, he is accused of illicitly pressuring Ukraine to aid his 2020 reelection campaign, by asking Kiev to investigate his potential election rival Joe Biden.

Under McConnell's hastily revised set of procedures for the trial, there will be 48 hours of opening arguments - 24 hours for each side - over six days, easing off an earlier plan to keep them to two days each. This would be followed by 16 hours of questions from senators, submitted through Chief Justice John Roberts who is presiding over the proceedings.

Democrats put forth 11 amendments for subpoenas for documents and witnesses.

The Senate adopted the rules for Clinton's trial 100-0 after the two leaders at the time, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., came to an agreement.

The original version of McConnell's rules released on Monday said that the House couldn't submit its evidence until the question of witnesses was resolved.

Zoe Lofgren, a Democratic congresswoman on the prosecution team, pointed to historic precedent. President Zelensky has said he did not feel pressured by President Trump.

McConnell's resolution does not mention a motion to dismiss, but does not rule it out. McConnell also changed a second rule, allowing evidence collected during the House's impeachment inquiry to be automatically admitted into the official record, unless someone objects to the addition, the resolution now says.

Mr. McConnell backed down on both points after facing opposition from his own caucus. "Let's get this trial started, shall we?"

"It is likely that I would support a motion to subpoena witnesses", Susan Collins, a Republican from liberal-leaning Maine, said in a statement.

And at least one high-profile witness, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, has said he would be open to testify in the Senate.

The President's lawyers on Tuesday presented a preview of the arguments they will make once the substantive part of the trial begins in earnest, contending that what Mr. Trump did was not illegal.

Trump was impeached on December 18 by the House of Representatives, and formally charged on the floor of the Senate last week with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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