Published: Wed, January 22, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Impeachment Trial: Democrats and Republicans make opening arguments

Impeachment Trial: Democrats and Republicans make opening arguments

Under the resolution passed, House managers and White House attorneys will open their arguments Wednesday afternoon and each will have 24 hours to make their cases for and against impeachment over three days, up from two as McConnell had originally proposed.

However, following protests by senators from both parties as proceedings began, McConnell abruptly changed his proposal to include a third day for opening arguments.

Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who helped spearhead the House impeachment inquiry, summarised the charges against Trump and said the president had committed "constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment". For it to happen, at least four Republican senators would have to join Democrats in voting to call witnesses.

When the trial begins in earnest, Trump will be attending a global leaders conference in Davos, Switzerland. Given Trump's refusal to waive privilege and the length of time required by a court dispute, the Democrats acted responsibly in moving to a vote on impeachment based on the substantial record created by witnesses who did agree to testify.

But McConnell has been reticent to allowing new witnesses to testify during Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate. The headline should be today really, 'Corrupt investigators demand fair trial.' How do you do that? "This is the process for a rigged trial". "They want us all to focus on witnesses... they don't want you to focus on substance". Senators will then have 16 hours for questions and four hours for debate.

Only after this, under Mr. McConnell's plan, would senators decide whether to subpoena documents or call witnesses.

The Clinton rules resolution provided that there would be a vote on a motion to dismiss the charges, an apparent concession by Lott to Democrats.

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As the proceedings dragged on the debates turned acrimonious with Democrats lashing out at Republicans, accusing them or participating in a cover up after the GOP voted down several of their amendments seeking documents and testimony from witnesses, a condition Democrats had been pushing for in the past weeks.

"In the 1905 Swain trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word "pettifogging" and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used", Roberts said.

After they were finished, Roberts said he felt it was "appropriate for me to admonish both the house managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body".

He played a clip of Mulvaney admitting the aid-for-investigations trade-off, and detailed the testimony of various officials who traced the efforts back to the highest ranking White House staffer.

House Democrats accuse the president of abusing his power in office by orchestrating a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic political rival, as well as launch a probe into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russian Federation, meddled in the 2016 presidential elections.

But this is the risk of Trump, and Republicans have known it since the beginning: They have no idea from one day to the next what they might be called upon to defend.

The length of the impeachment trial is still up in the air. Trump has tweeted that he would like such a motion, but Senate Republicans have indicated that they don't have the votes to pass it and that they would prefer for the president to be acquitted, as he is expected to be.

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