As reported by WashingtonExaminer
The Senate passed rules governing President Trump’s impeachment trial that exclude immediate consideration of new witnesses or evidence.
Senate Republicans early Wednesday voted without any defections to provide a majority needed to pass the resolution. It followed a daylong debate over the rules of a trial that could last for weeks.
While the rule dodges a witness fight for now, key Republicans have signaled they may vote for witnesses later in the trial. Among them is Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, who put out a statement Tuesday indicating she is “likely” to vote to subpoena additional witness testimony.
The vote to pass the resolution followed an extended effort by Democrats to force changes to the rules to require witnesses and new evidence up front.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, introduced several amendments to subpoena documents and require witness testimony.
All of Schumer’s amendments failed along party lines.
The rules of the trial will generally follow those set during the 1999 impeachment trial of President Clinton in that senators won’t vote on whether to summon new witnesses or to subpoena additional documents until after both the impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team present their arguments.
The trial terms provide each side three days to present arguments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier Tuesday altered the rules to appeal to Senate moderates who balked at the two-day time limit McConnell initially hoped set.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, also changed a rule that would have required the Senate to approve of the admission of evidence the House acquired during a weeks-long impeachment investigation.
The rule now allows the House impeachment managers to submit all of their evidence unless the Senate objects.
The opening day floor arguments pitted Democratic House impeachment managers, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, against Trump’s seven-member legal team, headed by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
The two sides provided an extensive preview of impeachment arguments they are about to deliver.
Cipollone argued the House impeachment investigation denied due process to President Trump, was politically motivated and fell short of proving the president should be removed from office.
“They started impeaching him the minute he was elected,” Cipollone argued. “They have weaponized the House of Representatives to investigate incessantly their political opponent. It’s time for this to end.”
House Democrats argued the president abused the power of his office when he sought Ukraine’s help investigating Joe Biden while at the same time withholding critical security aid.
They also accused him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents and to permit witness testimony related to their allegations.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, who is an impeachment manager, made the case that the Senate should summon acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who played a role in withholding the $391 million in security aid from Ukraine.
“He was a central figure in how the president implemented his pressure campaign,” Jeffries argued.
Trump, Jeffries said, “solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election and corrupted our democracy.”