January 23, 2020
The Senate voted along party lines to pass Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s game plan for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the early hours of Wednesday morning—following nearly 13 hours of contentious debate between House prosecutors and attorneys for the White House.
According to a report by NBC News, the Republican majority had voted down several amendments proposed by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have required the Senate to subpoena documents and call witnesses.
The vote came just before 2 a.m. Wednesday—after Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), one of the House impeachment managers, suggested that senators were voting for a “cover-up;” which drew sharp responses from the president’s legal counsel.
Indeed, the mood in the chamber and the language became so vile that Chief Justice John Roberts admonished House managers and Trump’s counsel “in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Robert said, “I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”
Under the terms of the organizing resolution, NBC News said, the House case managers will have 24 hours over three days—up from the 24 hours over two days that McConnell originally had proposed—to make their arguments to remove the president from office on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. Attorneys for the White House likewise will have 24 hours over three days to state their case for acquittal.
Senators will then have 16 hours to submit questions to both sides before they decide whether to call witnesses or subpoena documents.
The plan proposed by the Majority Leader—nicknamed “Midnight Mitch” for his preference for trying the president in a slot later than TV’s prime time—had been opposed by Democrats, who wanted a guarantee that they would be able to call witnesses and demand documents that the administration withheld during the House impeachment inquiry. 202006:28
The vote wasn’t a total loss for Democrats, however. Not only did McConnell change the two-day rule for arguments; but he also rescinded another that could have barred evidence gathered by the House.
Democrats complained that the two-day limit would have meant that they would be making arguments until 1 a.m. or later, depriving much of the public of the chance to watch the proceedings.
The other provision could have barred entering all of the evidence House Democrats gathered against Trump into the Senate record. The evidence now will be admitted automatically unless there’s an objection, rather than depend on a proactive vote to
The House case managers were expected to begin their opening arguments Wednesday afternoon, NBC News said.
Research contact: @NBCNews