After a gap salvo of back-and-forth arguments from President Trump’s attorneys and Democrats’ impeachment managers on Monday, Senate impeachment trial proceedings are set to start at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday with the expectation they’ll stretch properly right into a wild evening on Capitol Hill — at the same time as key procedural questions, together with the timeline for debate and whether or not extra witnesses will testify, stay undecided and hotly contentious.
In a shock transfer Monday evening, a detachment of high-profile Home Republicans introduced that they might formally be part of the president’s authorized crew, together with Reps. Doug Collins, Mike Johnson, Jim Jordan, Debbie Lesko, Mark Meadows, John Ratcliffe, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin. The last-minute present of power underscored the fluid nature of the Senate trial, which can be set to function full-throated arguments in opposition to impeachment from constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz and Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr.
“We’re not planning for them to current statements on the Senate ground,” a senior administration official advised Fox Information, referring to the most recent additions to Trump’s protection crew, headed up by White Home Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s private legal professional Jay Sekulow. “The group will proceed to offer essential steerage on the case due to their sturdy familiarity with the info and proof.”
Sekulow advised Fox Information’ “Hannity” on Monday evening that Trump’s authorized crew was “champing on the bit and able to go.” He maintained that government privilege, a longstanding constitutional precept defending government department deliberations from disclosure, by itself defeated the “obstruction of Congress” article of impeachment, whereas Democrats had solely rumour and insubstantial proof to help their “abuse of energy” cost.
Democrats, in the meantime, have seethed brazenly ever since Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., failed in her gambit to power Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell’s hand earlier than the Home would flip over the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Pelosi had sought a dedication permitting Democrats to name witnesses previous to arguments within the trial — however, with simply hours to go till the proceedings commenced, McConnell, R-Ky., dashed these hopes.
McConnell particularly revealed Monday that he wished a condensed, two-day calendar for both sides to offer opening statements, at 12 hours per day. After the 4 days of opening arguments, senators would be allowed as much as 16 hours for written inquiries to the prosecution and protection, adopted by 4 hours of debate. Solely then would there be votes on calling different witnesses, possible subsequent week. On the finish of deliberations, the Senate would then vote on every impeachment article.
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said in a statement Monday evening that McConnell’s decision, general, “aligns intently with the foundations bundle authorized 100-Zero in the course of the Clinton trial. If makes an attempt are made to vote on witnesses previous to opening arguments, I’d oppose these efforts.” Romney was amongst a small variety of Republican senators who stated they wished to think about witness testimony and paperwork that weren’t a part of the Home impeachment investigation.
Democrats, nevertheless, have been incensed. Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., referred to as McConnell’s guidelines bundle a “nationwide shame,” including, “it’s clear Sen. McConnell is hell-bent on making it way more troublesome to get witnesses and paperwork and intent on speeding the trial by.”
Even earlier than McConnell’s announcement, congressional Democrats apparently have been off-balance: “The Home managers have completely no thought what the construction of the trial two days earlier than the trial begins,” one supply with Home Democrats engaged on the impeachment trial complained to Fox Information late Sunday.
“It is completely unfathomable,” fumed one other supply with the Democrats. “Is Sen. McConnell going to have 12-hour trial days which run until 2 or 3 in the morning?”
McConnell is anticipated to kick off the afternoon’s proceedings by introducing his proposed decision for the parameters for the trial, which he has stated will move with at the least 53 votes. Senators won’t be immediately talking out within the debate over McConnell’s decision, which is slated to final for roughly two hours — solely members of Trump’s protection crew, and the seven Democrats serving as Home impeachment managers, are anticipated to take part.
Schumer possible will then current his counter-proposals to McConnell’s movement, adopted by one other two hours of debate among the many managers and Trump’s counsel. Potential proposals embody requests to subpoena particular witnesses — together with, doubtlessly, Rudy Giuliani affiliate Lev Parnas or former Nationwide Safety Adviser John Bolton — or to regulate debate time.
Then, at roughly 6 p.m. ET and even later, Fox Information is advised to count on a closed Senate session of indeterminate size after the debates. When the Senate returns to open session, lawmakers — together with two main Democratic presidential contenders, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — possible will vote in activate any amendments to McConnell’s proposal, then McConnell’s proposal itself.
McConnell’s proposal additionally was stated to incorporate a so-called “kill switch,” permitting Trump’s crew to maneuver to dismiss the articles of impeachment within the Senate shortly.
In an indication of the prevailing give-no-ground mentality forward of the trial, Trump’s authorized crew traded blows with Home prosecutors on Monday, asserting that the president did “completely nothing incorrect” and urging the Senate to reject an impeachment case it referred to as “flimsy” and a “harmful perversion of the Structure.” The attorneys decried the impeachment course of as rigged and insisted that abuse of energy was not a criminal offense.
Home Democrats impeached the president for “abuse of energy” associated to his administration’s withholding of U.S. army support to Ukraine whereas he urged the nation examine rival Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine. The help was ultimately launched, and Ukrainian officers have denied feeling any undue pressure. The administration’s refusal to adjust to Democrats’ probe, citing government privilege, led to the “obstruction of Congress” rely. Neither cost is an outlined federal crime.
“It’s a constitutional travesty.”
The 110-page filing from the White House shifted the tone towards a extra authorized response. It hinged partially on Trump’s assertion he did nothing incorrect and didn’t commit a criminal offense, in addition to on poking holes within the rumour witness testimony provided by Democrats.
For instance, the White Home identified that EU ambassador Gordon Sondland had stated he “had come to imagine” that support to Ukraine was linked to an investigation of Biden, “earlier than speaking to the president.” Moreover, Trump’s attorneys identified that Sondland admitted having “no proof” aside from his “personal presumption,” and that he was “speculating” based mostly on rumour that the Trump administration ever linked a White Home assembly with Ukraine’s leaders to the start of an investigation.
“It’s a constitutional travesty,” the attorneys wrote.
Moreover, the White Home launched Justice Division authorized opinions meant to bolster its case for defying subpoenas from Congress within the impeachment inquiry.
One opinion, dated Sunday, stated Trump administration officers have been free to ignore subpoenas despatched final fall earlier than the Home of Representatives had formally approved an impeachment inquiry. That approval, the memo stated, was obligatory earlier than congressional committees might start their very own investigations and situation subpoenas for paperwork and testimony.
The opinion was important as a result of one of many two articles of impeachment being taken up this week by the Senate accused Trump of obstructing Congress.
In the meantime, the prosecution crew of Home managers was spending one other day on Capitol Hill getting ready for the trial, which is able to happen beneath heavy safety. The Democrats made their approach by crowds of vacationers within the Rotunda to tour the Senate chamber.
In their very own submitting Monday, Home prosecutors replied to Trump’s “not responsible” plea by making recent calls for for a good trial within the Senate. “President Trump asserts that his impeachment is a partisan ‘hoax.’ He’s incorrect,” the prosecutors wrote of their reply.
They wrote that the president cannot have it each methods — rejecting the info of the Home case but in addition stonewalling congressional subpoenas for witnesses and testimony. “Senators should honor their very own oaths by holding a good trial with all related proof,” they wrote.
No president has ever been eliminated by the Senate. The present Senate, with a 53-47 Republican majority, isn’t anticipated to mount the two-thirds voted wanted for conviction. Even when it did, the White Home crew has argued it will be an “unconstitutional conviction” as a result of the articles of impeachment have been too broad.
Administration officers have argued that related imprecision utilized to the perjury case in Clinton’s impeachment trial.
The White Home has additionally urged the Home inquiry was missing as a result of it failed to research Biden or his son Hunter, who served on the board of a fuel firm in Ukraine in a profitable function whereas his father was overseeing Ukraine coverage as vice chairman. Ought to Democrats insist on calling witnesses like Parnas and Bolton, Republicans have brazenly urged that they could then push for a subpoena the Bidens.
Fox Information’ Caroline McKee, Chad Pergram, John Roberts and The Related Press contributed to this report.