Published: Thu, January 23, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Donald Trump's senate impeachment trial hears opening arguments

Donald Trump's senate impeachment trial hears opening arguments

"All of this is a risky perversion of the constitution that the Senate should condemn quickly and harshly", wrote the president's lawyers in their first full filing on Monday. The response states both articles against the president should be rejected.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY cheered the alterations in a brief statement, claiming McConnell's shift signaled that Republican senators were beginning to see "how unfair" his trial rules are.

Collins later voted with Republicans to table a motion by Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena documents and witnesses.

As the impeachment trial began in earnest, senators voted 53-47 along party lines to block a motion from Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena White House documents related to Mr Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

The trial marks just the third time the Senate has weighed whether an American president should be removed from office. Rep. Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, seemed to capture senators' attention when he told them near he knew the hour was late, but it was morning in Ukraine where soldiers were waking up to fight Russian Federation, depending on US aid. The Iowa caucuses are in less than two weeks.

The president himself was in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum on Tuesday, where he repeated his longstanding characterization of impeachment as a "hoax".

When the House managers have finished, the president's team will respond with its opening arguments.

The rules now set the stage for Trump's impeachment trial where the president faces charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice in connection to his interactions with Ukraine past year.

Democrats oppose McConnell's schedule, which House Democratic aides said Monday was an effort to "conceal the President's misconduct in the dark of night". "The rules he proposed really are a national disgrace for this reason".

McConnell proposed giving Democratic prosecutors and Trump's lawyers 24 hours each over three days for opening arguments, easing off an earlier plan to keep them to two days and also allowing the House's record of the probe to be admitted as evidence. After that, the Senate could vote to hear from witnesses or move swiftly to final deliberations before declaring Trump guilty or not guilty.

McConnell's ground rules are outlined in a four-page resolution that must be voted on as one of the first orders of business. He vowed to call for a series of votes to amend the rules and demand testimony and documents, but it seemed unlikely Republicans would break from the party to join Democrats.

"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.

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The doors to the Senate Chamber were closed to onlookers and the media during visits. "McConnell makes this the first impeachment trial in history without witnesses or documents", he claimed.

"They're not here to steal one election, they're here to steal two elections", Cipollone said. "He's wrong", the prosecutors wrote.

But House managers said Saturday in a memorandum that Trump "abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing our national security, the integrity of our elections, and our democracy". "House Democrats can't have it both ways", said White House legislative director Eric Ueland.

On the first day of the trial, Mr Trump's chief legal defender attacked the case as baseless as a top Democratic politician said there was "overwhelming" evidence of wrongdoing.

House Democrats in their initial court filing over the weekend called Trump's conduct the "worst nightmare" of the framers of the Constitution. They called him a "material witness to the charges against President Trump".

Trump is accused of withholding almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine's war against Russian-backed separatists, and refusing Zelensky a White House meeting, unless he opened a probe of Biden.

2/3: The proportion of senators required to convict and remove a president.

But Trump looks nearly certain to be acquitted because of the 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate.

When Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, was working on a bill to fund the Pentagon, he said Cipollone put in a good word for him with the White House legislative team.

"In my view, it's unfortunate that we're dragging the American public through this at all", he said.

The White House also suggests the House inquiry was lacking because it failed to investigate Biden or his son Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine while his father was vice president.

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