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Impeachment trial: Senate proceedings set to begin as rules come into focus

  • The first day of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate is set to get underway at 1 p.m., marking just the third time a president has faced removal from office in U.S. history.
  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican and an ally of the president, unveiled a resolution laying out the ground rules for the trial on Monday.
  • The resolution gives both House managers and the president’s defense team 24 hours each over the course of two days to present their cases, followed by a period for written questions.
  • Senators will likely spend Tuesday debating the resolution, which must be passed before opening arguments.
  • A simple majority of senators — 51 votes— is needed to approve the resolution and other motions. There are 53 Republicans in the Senate, and 47 Democrats, including two independents.
  • Download the free CBS News app for complete coverage of the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

McConnell outlines proposed rules for trial

The Senate’s Republican leadership has released the rules that would govern the president’s impeachment trial should they be approved by the chamber.

The four-page resolution allows the House managers and the president’s legal team the same amount of time offered in President Clinton’s impeachment trial. Both sides will be given 24 hours over two days each, which could mean four 12-hour days of testimony for opening arguments alone.

Only after opening arguments and another 16 hours of questioning from senators, will there be a vote or votes on whether to consider witnesses.

“If the Senate agrees to allow either the House of Representatives or the president to subpoena witnesses, the witnesses shall first be deposed and the Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify, pursuant to the impeachment rules,” the resolution says.

“No testimony shall be admissible in the Senate unless the parties have had an opportunity to depose such witnesses. At the conclusion of the deliberations by the Senate, the Senate shall vote on each article of impeachment.”

The rules must be approved by a majority of the Republican-controlled Senate to take effect.

Schumer vows to challenge McConnell resolution

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused McConnell of trying to bury evidence, saying the GOP leader wants “key facts to be delivered in the wee hours of the night, simply because he doesn’t want the American people to hear them. Plain and simple.”

The New York Democrat also noted the rules make it much harder to add witnesses and evidence once arguments are heard.

“We will be able to force votes on witnesses and documents before his resolution is adopted tomorrow, and we will,” Schumer said. “But, they’ve all said, so many senators, ‘Let’s hear the arguments and then we’ll decide on witnesses and documents.’ McConnell throws language in that makes that much harder to happen.”

“Finally, Clinton resolution allowed for dismissal only after arguments were heard. This resolution allows for dismissal at any time,” Schumer pointed out.

“It is a national disgrace” he said. “Impeachment is one of the few powers that Congress has when a president overreaches. To so limit impeachment, and make it so much less serious, is so, so wrong, and we will fight that tooth and nail.”

Trump lawyers call impeachment “an affront to the Constitution” 

In a legal brief ahead of his Senate trial, President Trump’s legal team argued that the articles of impeachment passed by the House are “an affront to the Constitution” and should be rejected by the Senate.

The 110-page brief was written by Mr. Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who are leading his impeachment defense. The White House filed it with the Senate ahead of a noon deadline on Monday.

The document lays out many of the same assertions that appeared a six-page brief the president’s team filed over the weekend, largely that the “flimsy” impeachment articles “allege no crime or violation of law whatsoever” and don’t warrant his removal from office.

House managers: Trump is the “Framers’ worst nightmare come to life”

House impeachment managers called Mr. Trump the “Framers’ worst nightmare come to life,” urging the Senate to “place truth above faction” and convict the president on both articles of impeachment

The managers submitted a new nine-page filing to the secretary of the Senate in response to Mr. Trump’s answer to a trial summons, which his legal team submitted Saturday.

In their filing, the House managers rejected the arguments raised by the president’s lawyers and said Mr. Trump violated his oath of office by using his presidential powers to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election for his own gain.

“President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment. That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong,” the impeachment managers wrote. “The Framers deliberately drafted a Constitution that allows the Senate to remove presidents who, like President Trump, abuse their power to cheat in elections, betray our national security, and ignore checks and balances. That President Trump believes otherwise, and insists he is free to engage in such conduct again, only highlights the continuing threat he poses to the nation if allowed to remain in office.”

The impeachment managers said Mr. Trump “offers an unconvincing and implausible defense against the factual allegations” detailed in the first article, abuse of power, and note that none of his predecessors have ordered officials to defy an impeachment subpoena. Mr. Trump’s order for White House officials not to comply with those subpoenas are at the heart of the second article, obstruction of Congress.

“President Trump did not engage in this corrupt conduct to uphold the Presidency or protect the right to vote. He did it to cheat in the next election and bury the evidence when he got caught,” the impeachment managers wrote.

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