24/09/2020

A resolution unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday evening will allot a total of 24 hours per side for opening statements in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but that time must be confined to two working days.

WASHINGTON Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will allot each side a total of 24 hours to present their arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but the time must be confined to two working days, according to the text of his organizing resolution, which NBC News obtained Monday.
Arguments will begin Wednesday at 1 p.m., according to the rules McConnell laid out, setting up several long days for Senate jurors. Democrats protested that the rules would push arguments to late hours and make it harder to introduce evidence, although the rules do allow a vote on whether witnesses will be called to testify.
The four-page organizing resolution lays out the initial parameters of the trial and the Senate is expected to adopt the resolution before the trial begins. Starting on Wednesday at 1 p.m., House managers prosecuting the case against Trump may begin delivering opening arguments and have 24 hours to do so over the course of two Senate days. Once those prosecutors use up their 24 hours over the course of two days in session, Trumps legal team will then deliver their opening arguments.
Senators will then have the opportunity to question both sides for a period of 16 hours. Once that concludes, the Senate will consider “the question of whether it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents.”
The Senate would then hold an up or down vote deciding whether to move forward with witnesses or documents. Democrats need the support of four Senate Republicans, who control the chamber, in order to make it to that stage.
If they are successful and approve of witnesses and documents, the resolution makes clear that the witnesses must first be deposed and the Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify.
No testimony shall be admissible in the Senate unless the parties have had an opportunity to depose such witnesses, it adds.
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Depositions typically occur behind closed doors, which was done with witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry last year.
The resolution makes no mention of a motion to dismiss the case, though it leaves the door open for motions to be made by Wednesday morning.
The introduction of the resolution comes just hours before the trial is set to begin in earnest Tuesday and after Senate Democrats and the House’s impeachment managers expressed frustration about being kept in the dark about procedural details, though several Republican senators had offered clues.
Trump weighed in on the trial on Monday morning, suggesting on Twitter that it’s not fair to him that Democrats didn’t call certain witnesses during the House’s impeachment inquiry who they now want to question during the Senate trial.
They didnt want John Bolton and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020
House impeachment investigators had requested that Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, testify about what he knew about the president’s dealing with Ukraine at the heart of their inquiry. Bolton, who was not subpoenaed, said he would testify before the House only if he was subpoenaed and a judge ordered him to appear. However, he indicated this month he was willing to appear as a witness in the Senate trial if subpoenaed.
The other witnesses that Senate Democrats have said they’d like to call for testimony were subpoenaed during the House impeachment inquiry, but chose not to comply at the direction of the White House.
Trump also slammed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democrats for now asking for a fair trial even after he said Democrats made sure he got “ZERO fairness in the House.”
Cryin Chuck Schumer is now asking for fairness, when he and the Democrat House members worked together to make sure I got ZERO fairness in the House. So, what else is new?
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020
Speaking to reporters on a conference call Sunday night, a Democratic aide working on the Senate trial said that the idea of 12 hours a day of presentations, excluding breaks, is a complete sham.
The House managers have absolutely no idea what the structure of trial is going to be and the notion that the House managers are going into a trial that begins on Tuesday without knowing what the structure is, is completely unfathomable, the aide said.
The aide added that the House managers strongly object to this format and argued that if the rumored schedule is true, it is Senate Republicans trying to hide the presidents misconduct in the dead of night rather than putting it in the light of day.
Trump was impeached by the House in December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
During the 1999 Senate trial of President Bill Clinton, the Houses Republican managers had three days to deliver their opening arguments, using about four to six hours each day. Clinton’s White House defense team also used three days to deliver their arguments, taking between two and four hours each day.
Last week, ahead of the full House vote to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named seven House Democrats as the impeachment managers who would serve as prosecutors in Trump’s trial. The team Reps. Adam Schiff of California, who will be the lead manager; Jerry Nadler of New York; Hakeem Jeffries of New York; Jason Crow of Colorado; Zoe Lofgren of California; Val Demings of Florida; and Sylvia Garcia of Texas worked through the weekend preparing for the trial, which will begin in earnest Tuesday afternoon.
The Democratic aide said that managers met Sunday to discuss their strategy, review their arguments and refine their individual presentations, noting that all seven will have a speaking role during the trial.
Managers met again Monday morning on Capitol Hill, and did a walkthrough in the Senate later in the day.