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

Trump impeachment trial to get under way with battle over rules

Trump impeachment trial to get under way with battle over rules

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. "Since the president was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed", Sekulow said as he defended a resolution that would govern the procedures for the trial. Late on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented his resolution, which would allow House managers, who work as prosecutors, up to 24 hours over the course of two days to present their case.

Lawmakers said Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the announcement of investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter's work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, and into unsubstantiated claims that the country interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The last-minute changes - which were written by hand on the resolution, with other lines crossed out - were revealed on Tuesday as the organizing resolution for President Donald Trump's Senate trial was being read into the record on the Senate floor. The rules also will allow the House's record of the impeachment probe admitted as evidence in the trial, as Democrats had demanded.

Impeachment managers from the House represent the Democrats' argument.

Republican senators have not ruled out the possibility of further testimony and evidence at some point after opening arguments and senators' questions.

The vote is a culmination of disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over what would constitute a fair trial.

"The president's lawyers will finally receive a level playing field, " the Kentucky Republican said, contrasting it with the House impeachment inquiry. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) to the Senate chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 16, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Donald Trump's senate impeachment trial hears opening arguments
McConnell's ground rules are outlined in a four-page resolution that must be voted on as one of the first orders of business. The trial marks just the third time the Senate has weighed whether an American president should be removed from office.


Democrats are denouncing the move, arguing McConnell is collaborating with the White House to speed through the trial to acquit the president without all the available materials.

Even if such a motion fails, Trump is nearly certain to be acquitted by the 100-member chamber, where a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office.

The two sides squared off over trial rules, which Democrats say appear to be designed by President Trump. Cipollone described the Ukraine investigation as an illegal attempt to remove a democratically elected president and avert his re-election. One of Roberts' four law clerks, Megan Braun, will join him every day when he travels to the Senate, Arberg said. Cipollone said Republicans were excluded from the secure facility where the initial depositions for the House impeachment hearings took place, when Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee were not only present but questioned witnesses.

Both House Democrats and the White House will have to release some details of their plans Wednesday morning.

McConnell's new resolution, proposed by the Senate Republican Leader on Tuesday, also automatically enters the House evidence against the president into the Senate record instead of the senators having to vote on making that happen.

The House impeachment investigation centred on a whistle-blower complaint in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

"There can be no reasonable dispute that the Framers would have considered a president's solicitation of a foreign country's election interference in exchange for critical American military and diplomatic support to be an impeachable offense", the managers wrote in their brief. But public sentiment is sharply divided along partisan lines, with 89 percent of Democrats supporting a conviction, and 89 percent of Republicans opposing it. One, Richard Nixon, resigned in the face of a looming impeachment. U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts presides.

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