The Impeachment Trial of the 45th President of the United States begins in earnest Tuesday where Republican and Democratic Senators are expected to clash over the adoption of a resolution setting the rules for the process.
The trial of President Donald Trump is expected to run for six days per week with the first session expected to thrash out an organising resolution before opening arguments in the process are heard. Witness testimony and the presentation of new documentary evidence could prove a sticking point as the two sides square off.
It’s only the third impeachment trial of a President in history after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999 where both were acquitted in the Senate process and not removed from office. Democratic impeachment managers, appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week believe they have an unassailable case against the President arguing that he illegally withheld congressionally approved military aid for Ukraine in exchange for political favours that could influence the 2020 Presidential election. In addition, they argue he obstructed Congress during its impeachment inquiry, as lead impeachment Manager and Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff explained.
“President Trump acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore President Trump by such conduct has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”
The trial will also showcase the President’s direct defense of the charges for the first time with criminal lawyer Alan Dershowitz, better known for defending O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson along with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone among others expected to argue that President Trump’s actions are not impeachable offences.
‘I can only tell you this thing is a big hoax. It’s a big hoax. We call it this is the current hoax, we’ve gone through the Russian witch hunt, we’ve gone through a lot of them from probably before it came down the escalator, but certainly, since they came down the escalator, you take a look at what’s happened, and in the meantime, our country doesn’t matter.”
With a release of new incriminating documents that point to the President’s direct knowledge of the pressure campaign for Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Senate Democrats are calling for witness testimony and White House documents in the trial, short of which accusing Republicans of a cover-up.
Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “We have asked for four fact witnesses and three specific sets of relevant documents. The witnesses are not Democrats. They are the president’s men, his top advisers who he appointed. The documents are not Democratic documents. They are just documents. Period. Every Senate impeachment trial in our history, all 15 that were brought to completion, featured witnesses, every single one.”
But the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has held the rules resolution for the trial close to his chest.
“We’ll be dealing with the witness issue at the appropriate time into the trial. And I think it’s certainly appropriate to point out that both sides would want to call witnesses that they wanted to hear from. So when you get to that issue, I can’t imagine that only the witnesses that our Democratic colleagues would want to call would be called.”
REPORTER: The President has suggested that you should just move to dismiss. You clearly want to get this over sooner rather than later. Why not push to try to dismiss?
MCCONNELL: There is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss. Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen to the arguments and we’ve laid out in this resolution an opportunity for everybody to sit there.
In terms of the rules of impeachment trials, The Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts will preside while all 100 Senators must be seated, precluded from saying a word. While the impeachment managers and the president’s defence team present arguments for and against his removal, Senators act as jurors, unable to speak according to a proclamation that says “all persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment” – a clear penalty of jail-time for breaking the rules of no talking. Senators, though, can submit written questions and objections through the Chief Justice but talk they shall not.