Today the Senate will officially kick off the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump.
Monday evening, the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R–KY), released a set of rules for how the trial will be conducted. Although his argument is that he wants this trial to mimic to the trial of Bill Clinton in the nineties, Democrats have said these rules are considerably different than those used in Clinton’s trial.
The biggest difference between the Clinton trial and the Trump trial is the lack of witnesses. In 1999, the Senate heard from three witnesses; in the only other presidential impeachment trial prior to Clinton’s, in the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, there were a total of 41 witnesses brought before the Senate.
In comparison, Mitch McConnell is calling for no witnesses to be used in the Trump impeachment trial, which has angered many Democrats, both in the Senate and House.
McConnell has also said that the Senate will vote as to whether or not to admit both the testimony and evidence that was collected by the House and used to write up the Articles of Impeachment against President Trump. Again, Democrats have voiced their outrage, claiming that witness testimony and documentary evidence is essential to conducting a fair trial.
Another point of contention has to do with the amount of time allotted by McConnell and how that time will be used. Democrats are arguing against these initial time rules, positing that the rules will cause key aspects of the trial to not occur until sometime in the middle of the night and early morning hours, which they fear is an attempt on McConnell’s part to hide the trial from the American public.
Democrats are also afraid that McConnell and Republicans have created these rules in an attempt to quickly acquit President Trump of all charges, especially after McConnell stated publicly that he would be working very closely with the White House in these proceedings.
On Tuesday, the Senate will debate the rules as they have been laid out and attempt to amend them before hearings begin.
Update (1/21/20 12:30pm): Adam Schiff and fellow House Managers respond to Mitch McConnell’s trial rules.
Update (1/21/20 12:50pm): Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responds to Mitch McConnell’s trial rules and speaks on the impeachment trial of President Trump.