Senate resolution sets a fast pace for Trump impeachment trial

Senate resolution sets a fast pace for Trump impeachment trial

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has drafted the rules for the trial and they allow 24 hours or up to two days for House impeachment managers to present their case that Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress to cover it up.

The resolution also prohibits the testimony of witnesses unless they are first deposed privately.

The resolution, which senators will pass Tuesday afternoon at the start of the trial, provides Trump’s White House defense team with the same amount of time to present their case.

It also provides Trump's team to offer a motion to dismiss the case as soon as the resolution setting the terms of the trial is adopted. But that motion is likely to fail because Republicans have indicated they want to hear the case before rendering judgment.

Senior Republican aids say the 24 hours provided to present both the case and the defense line up with the 1999 impeachment trial of President Clinton, except in that case the 24 hours were used by both sides over a three-day period.

According to the resolution, obtained by the Washington Examiner, senators would be provided 16 hours to ask written questions after the presentation of the case and the defense. After that, the Senate will hold a four-hour debate on whether to subpoena or call witnesses to testify or to seek additional evidence.

If senators vote to call witnesses, the witnesses will be deposed first, “and the Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses will testify,” in the Senate.

Finally, after witnesses are interviewed, the Senate will vote each of the two articles. It takes 67 votes to convict the president on either of the articles so it is unlikely Trump will be removed from office.

The resolution does not automatically allow all of the House impeachment investigation material to be used as evidence in the Senate trial.

A Republican aide said Trump’s investigation was “meaningfully different” from the Clinton impeachment trial because, the aide said, Trump as denied due process.

Clinton’s investigation lasted several years and the fight over witnesses was litigated in court.

“This resolution provides for the production of materials from the House trial to be printed and made available to all Senators and it allows for a vote at a later time on the question of whether or not it may be admitted as part of the Senate trial,” the aide said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, immediately criticized the resolution.

“Under this resolution, Sen. McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,” Schumer said. “A trial where no evidence — no existing record, no witnesses, no documents — isn’t a trial at all. It’s a cover up, and the American people will see it for exactly what it is.”

The battle over witnesses is less predictable.

Democrats want to call four Trump administration officials as witnesses and want the Senate to subpoena three sets of documents. Their list includes former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Republicans warned if Democrats seek witnesses, they’ll call for their own list, which would include Hunter Biden, son of former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.