Trump Impeachment: Day One Proceedings and What’s Next

In December of 2019, President Donald Trump was impeached for two offenses: abuse of power and obstruction of justice. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 the United States Senate began the long-awaited senate trial where it will be decided if President Trump will remain in office or be convicted. Here are the key takeaways as the trial commences.

The prosecution for the trial is composed of seven Democratic lawmakers, including the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California. Schiff became a household name as the House impeachment proceedings occurred late last year. Other notable figures on the prosecution team include chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York and Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the only lawmaker on the prosecution team to have presided over the past three impeachment hearings.

Courtesy: ABC News

President Trump’s defense team consists of White House and private lawyers alike, key members including White House counsel Pat Cipollone, private lawyer Jay Sekulow and former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. The goal of the defense team is to acquit the President of all charges brought against him by convincing at least 34 senators of his innocence. This would prevent a two-thirds majority from voting to convict and remove President Trump from office.

Leading up to the beginning of the debate on Tuesday, questions about the fairness and impartiality of the Senate trial have flooded the headlines. The White House has already called for President Trump’s acquittal, many GOP senators are expected to vote across party lines,  and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed distaste for calling any witnesses to testify at the trial—including former national security advisor John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Another point of contention going into the trial was Senator McConnell’s original rules in which he proposed a condensed two-day schedule of debate. McConnell’s plans were admonished, the Majority Leader accused by Democrats of trying to speed through the impeachment process while Democrats were accused by Republicans of dragging it out. McConnell subsequently changed the rules for the trial, allowing for cases to be presented over a three-day period instead of two.

Courtesy: Jon Elswick on Associated Press

In his Tuesday afternoon statements, Rep. Adam Schiff also called for changes to McConnell’s organizing resolution for the trial. One such change he argued for was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s proposed amendment that ordered subpoenas for White House documents, an action that would not be allowed under McConnell’s current resolution.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren also argued for Schumer’s amendment to subpoena the White House documents from the State Department. However, on Tuesday evening, the Senate voted this motion down in a 53-47 majority, following party lines to a tee.

Later in the evening, Schiff and the other impeachment managers also argued for an amendment to McConnell’s resolution to call Mick Mulvaney to testify at Trump’s trial. This was another vote across party lines. Senator Chuck Schumer brought forth two more amendments to subpoena further documents from the Defense Department as well as testimony from Mulvaney’s senior advisor Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey. Both amendments failed to pass. At the end of the first day of debate, 11 amendments had been voted down, McConnell’s resolution subsequently voted into place very early Wednesday morning and the Senate adjourned.

As the trial continues, Senator Schumer introduced amendments late into Tuesday night to a floor full of tired senators, Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar are back amongst their coworkers in Capitol Hill instead of the campaign trail leading up to the Iowa Caucus. Wednesday begins with opening statements from both President Trump’s defense and the prosecution as well as a questioning period. The impeachment trial will continue through the rest of the working week and into next week, where the Senate will again consider amendments to subpoena witnesses and documents.

To catch up with live updates about the trial proceedings, head to the New York Times, the Washington Post or NPR.

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