Udall, Heinrich: Senate trial would be cover-up without witnesses

Udall, Heinrich: Senate trial would be cover-up without witnesses

President Donald Trump's impeachment trial quickly burst into a partisan fight Tuesday as proceedings began unfolding at the Capitol.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone arrives for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 21, 2020.

House Democrats impeached the president last month on two charges: abuse of power by withholding USA military aid to Ukraine as he pressed the country to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, and obstruction of Congress by refusing to cooperate with their investigation.

"All this is a unsafe perversion of the Constitution which the Senate should condemn quickly and without detour", the lawyers for the president wrote in their first complete file on Monday. "The articles should be rejected and the president should immediately be acquitted".

As the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump finally got underway Tuesday after weeks of acrimony between lawmakers over the fairness of the proceedings, it's worth noting that other American presidents have also faced potential removal from office.

The resolution, put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calls for each side to receive up to 24 hours to argue their case, spread over three days.

"The only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong", Mr Cipollone said as he argued in favour of Mr McConnell's proposal to decide on whether to allow further witnesses or documents later in the trial. He described the proposed rules as "national disgrace".

It is only the third time a president has endured an impeachment trial, after Clinton and Andrew Johnson in 1868. When senators want to debate the resolution themselves, they will have to go into closed session, removing the public and the media from the chamber, something that's expected to occur on Tuesday. Iowa caucuses are in less than two weeks.

While Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the Christmas holidays, Cipollone was in his second-floor White House office - where he has a photograph of his family, including his 10 children, with the president - working on his trial arguments on a yellow legal pad, according to a person familiar with his preparations. Last month she said she was "disturbed" that GOP leaders were coordinating trial strategy with the White House (see related story).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will also be absent and will lead a bipartisan delegation of congresses to Poland and Israel to commemorate the 75 years since Auschwitz liberation at the end of World War II.

House Democrats removed the president from office last month on two counts: abuse of power by denying U.S. military aid to Ukraine as he urged the country to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and obstructs Congress by refusing to cooperate in their investigation.

Mr Schumer said Republican senators "felt the heat" and it "shows that they can make other changes and that we can get documents and witnesses".


McConnell's basic rules are laid down in a four-page resolution on which one of the first rules of procedure must be voted.

Following that, senators will have 16 hours to ask questions in writing that will be read by Chief Justice John G. Roberts for the appropriate side to answer. Only then will there be votes on whether or not to call other witnesses.

House impeachment managers Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep.

U.S. House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving leads the seven impeachment managers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep.

In their own files on Monday, House prosecutors issued new demands for a fair trial.

Democrats in the House said the President could not play both ways - dismissing the facts of the House case but also obstructing congressional summons for witnesses and testimony. Democrats objected strongly to rules proposed by the Republican leader for compressed arguments and a speedy trial.

Murkowski won reelection in 2016 opposing Trump and a year later still achieved her long-sought goal of opening drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with strong White House support. In a press conference before returning to Washington, Trump said his legal team was doing a "very good job".

The Democrats in the House, in their initial briefing this weekend, called Trump's conduct "the constitutionmakers' worst nightmare".

But the Trump team said on Monday that even if Trump were to abuse his power by denying military aid to Ukraine, it would not be impenetrable because it would not violate a specific criminal status.

"He must be removed from office".

Even if such a motion fails, Trump is nearly certain to be acquitted by the 100-member chamber, where a two-thirds majority is needed to remove him from office. Even if that were the case, the White House team argued that it was an "unconstitutional conviction" because the charges were too broad.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in written responses to questions from reporters that it's expected to be "business as usual" at the court during the trial.

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