The Senate impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but “The Enemy of The People,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is keeping the House managers of the impeachment trial and the American people in the dark about the trial rules. This is bad faith, an abuse of power, and the opposite of a fair trial.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to allot a total of 24 hours per side for opening statements in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, but that time must be confined to two working days, two Republican sources familiar with the proposal said Monday.
This is likely to mean long days for Senate members as the House impeachment managers prosecuting the case against Trump and the legal team handling the president’s defense would have to make their arguments on a tight timeline.
A draft of McConnell’s organizing resolution setting the rules for Trump’s trial has not yet been released. With the start of the trial just a day away, Senate Democrats and the House’s impeachment managers expressed frustration about being kept in the dark about procedural details, though several Republican senators have offered clues.
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“That proposal right now will look very similar to 24 hours of presentation by the House managers over two days and then 24 hours of presentation by the president’s team over two days, and then 16 hours of questions submitted by the members in writing” to Chief Justice John Roberts, who presides over the trial, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a Trump ally, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
Schumer said during a news conference Sunday night that Democrats still don’t know how the trial will proceed.
“Why is McConnell being so secretive about his proposal?” he said.
Similarly, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said on “Meet the Press” that as of late Saturday night, “there hasn’t been the most basic negotiation or exchange of information” between Democratic and Republican leadership teams.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call Sunday night, a Democratic aide working on the Senate trial said that the idea of 12 hours a day of presentations, excluding breaks, is a “complete sham.”
“The House managers have absolutely no idea what the structure of trial is going to be and the notion that the House managers are going into a trial that begins on Tuesday without knowing what the structure is, is completely unfathomable,” the aide said.
The aide added that the House managers “strongly object” to this format and argued that if the rumored schedule is true, it is Senate Republicans “trying to hide the president’s misconduct in the dead of night rather than putting it in the light of day.”
By way of comparison and contrast:
During the 1999 Senate trial of President Bill Clinton, the House’s Republican managers had three days to deliver their opening arguments, using about four to six hours each day. Clinton’s White House defense team also used three days to deliver their arguments, taking between two and four hours each day.
Mitch McConnell is committed to a sham trial. These trial rules should have been agreed upon and known to both legal teams well in advance of the start of trial on Tuesday. As a trial attorney, I find this completely unacceptable and a gross departure from any notion of fairness or due process.
UPDATE: CNN confirms this reporting. Impeachment resolution shortens trial’s opening arguments to two days per side:
The impeachment organizing resolution text from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gives House impeachment managers and the President’s legal team 24 hours each to make their opening arguments over two days.
The resolution raises the prospect that the trial will have 12-hour days and go late into the night, according to a copy of the resolution obtained by CNN.
The timing is a break from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton when the 24 hours were split over a four-day period.
The Senate will debate and vote on the resolution setting the rules of the trial on Tuesday.
The resolution also says that after presentations from the impeachment managers and the President’s legal team and then 16 hours of questions from senators, the Senate will consider “the question of whether it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents.”
There is no mention of a motion to dismiss the impeachment articles in the organizing resolution, as some of the President’s defenders have advocated for, but there is an option for motions that would present an opportunity to propose a motion to dismiss later in the trial.
Team Trump filed its trial brief to dismiss today. Boiled down to its essence, it argues that Donald Trump is above the law and cannot be impeached. Trump’s legal team calls impeachment articles ‘an affront to the Constitution,’ urges quick acquittal in Senate:
President Donald Trump did “absolutely nothing wrong,” is the victim of a partisan plot to take him down and should be swiftly acquitted in a Senate trial, his legal team argued in a brief Monday.
The 110-page trial memo, prepared for submission to the Senate a day before the president’s impeachment trial is set to begin in earnest, counters House Democrats’ argument that Trump abused the power of his office for personal gain by working to pressure Ukraine to announce politically advantageous investigations and then, once he was caught, sought to obstruct Congress’ investigation.
The two articles, which the House adopted in December, set a dangerous precedent, Trump’s attorneys said in the memo, which the White House made public Monday.
They argued that House Democrats were intent during their impeachment inquiry, which lasted from September to mid-December, “to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election.”
Therefore, the GOP-controlled Senate should reject the impeachment charges and acquit the president with all due haste, it said.
“All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn,” the brief said. “The Articles themselves — and the rigged process that brought them here — are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected.”
The legal team is also expected to argue that neither of the two articles is legitimate because they don’t say that the president broke the law.
“The Framers adopted a standard that requires a violation of established law to state an impeachable offense. By contrast, in their Articles of Impeachment, House Democrats have not even attempted to identify any law that was violated,” they wrote.
This is just a longer version of the 7-page Trump response filed on Saturday that amounts to a primal scream drawn from Trump’s Twitter rages against impeachment. See earlier post for legal analysis, Team Trump presents no exculpatory defense of Trump, simply shouts ‘witch hunt!’
UPDATE: Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes Wittes concur, Trump’s Impeachment Brief Is a Howl of Rage: The document released by the president’s lawyers reads more like the scream of a wounded animal than a traditional legal filing.
The White House brief comes after the seven House managers, representing House Democrats as prosecutors in the Senate, filed a brief to the Senate on Saturday arguing that Trump’s behavior amounted to “the Framers’ worst nightmare” and that his actions present a “danger to our democratic processes.”
As I have said before, the Party of Trump is a criminal enterprise led by a third-rate mafia “Don” Trump. They are all accomplices, co-conspirators and accessories who aid and abet his criminality and corruption. There is not a patriot among them. They put fealty to their “Dear Leader” above all else, including loyalty to their country and our national security, and their oaths of office to defend the Constitution. They reject the rule of law and are amoral. It is a betrayal of the faith of the American people in our constitutional government. They must all be held accountable.