The Senate will vote Tuesday on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-K.Y.) proposed rules for President Trump's impeachment trial. If they approve the rules, the senators will be voting for some very late nights at the office.
McConnell's rules allow 24 hours for opening arguments over two sessions. If Trump's team and the House Democratic impeachment managers use all their time, it "could push testimony past midnight," The Washington Post reports. That would be a long time for senators to sit quietly without checking their phones, assuming they show up for the trial, but arguably worse for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Roberts should insist that he will not preside for 12 hours. He still has to be alert during the morning. This is coverup on steroids. We should all protest. https://t.co/8khPub1vRP
— Jill Wine-Banks (@JillWineBanks) January 21, 2020
After the opening arguments, senators would have 16 hours to question Trump's team and the House managers, then four hours to debate whether to allow witnesses and new evidence — and then, whether to allow the House's impeachment documents to be admissible as evidence. That's "a key difference from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton," the Post notes. "Though the material will be printed and made available to senators, it won’t be automatically admissible unless a majority of senators approve it."
All this may be a moot point, though, because McConnell's rules also allow Trump's team to move to dismiss the charges at any time after the rules are adopted, so 51 senators could end the trial right away. Fox News congressional reporter Chad Pergram isn't impressed.
McConnell’s resolution stipulates that key facts be delivered in the wee hours of the night simply because he doesn’t want the American people to hear them. Any senator that votes for the McConnell resolution will be voting to hide information & evidence from the American people
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 20, 2020
University of Texas constitutional law professor Steve Vladeck suggests McConnell might not have had impartial justice in mind.
As @nycsouthpaw points out, inverting the process like this will create some real awkwardness—and seems designed, quite clearly, to make it much easier for Senators to argue against reopening the process to accommodate any new witnesses/testimony after the arguments are complete. https://t.co/c0pTIRa18k
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) January 20, 2020
"All 53 Republican senators are expected to support the rules as written by McConnell," the Post reports.
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