The impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump kicked off in earnest on Tuesday with Democrats and Republicans battling over a resolution on the rules governing the trial.
Day two of the impeachment trial follows its ceremonial opening last week when US Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the proceedings, swore in senators as jurors.
Senators are expected on Tuesday to vote on a rules resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Democrats have rejected the proposal and vowed to introduce amendments.
Here are all the latest updates as of Tuesday, January 21:
Senate blocks move to subpoena Bolton
The US Senate Republicans voted to block the Democrats’ move to subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial.
The Senate voted 53-47 to reject the proposal.
Trump appears to be awake
Just before the clock struck midnight in Washington, DC, the US president went on a retweeting spree.
Trump is currently in the Swiss city of Davos for the World Economic Forum. It is 6am there.
While he has only composed one tweet so far since the impeachment trial’s proceedings started on Tuesday, he has retweeted several politicians who supported him on Twitter.
Schumer offers amendment to subpoena Bolton
Democrats have repeatedly said they want to hear from former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
As the clock struck midnight in Washington, DC, Senate Minority Chuck Schumer offered an amendment to the rules resolution to subpoena the former Trump administration official to testify in the trial.
Bolton has said he would be willing to testified if subpoenaed by the Senate.
New amendment offered … and blocked
After a quick recess, House managers and Trump defence lawyers were back at it. This time they were debating an amendment about information sharing.
“The amendment addresses that issue by providing that if any party seeks to admit, for the first time, here information that was previously subject to subpoena, that party must do a simple and fair thing,” House Manager Adam Schiff said. “It must provide the opposing party all of the other documents responsive to the subpoena. That is how the law works in America.”
But like the previous six amendments, the proposal was tabled, or killed.
Sixth amendment blocked
Senate Republicans have blocked an amendment to the rules resolution to subpoena Robert Blair, an aide to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an official with the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Sixth amendment being debated
Senate Democrats have offered their sixth amendment of the day. This one would subpoena Robert Blair, an aide to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an official with the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Like the rest of the amendments offered on Tuesday, it’s expected to be blocked by Republicans who hold the majority.
Another amendment blocked
Senate Republicans have blocked another attempt by Democrats to subpoena documents.
The Senate voted along party line to table, or kill, and amendment to subpoena Defense Department documents.
Another amendment offered
US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer offered an amendment to subpoena Defense Department documents.
No cameras allowed
TV cameras are banned inside and outside the Senate chamber. The video feed of the trial is controlled by the Senate Recording Studio, limiting of what’s seen by viewers.
Some news organisations have hired sketch artists to document what’s going on inside the Senate chamber.
Klobuchar hits back at Trump’s defence lawyer
Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is running for her party’s presidential nomination, hit back at one of Trump’s defence lawyers, who said some senators were “upset” because they “should be in Iowa right now”.
Klobuchar responded on Twitter: “No. This is my constitutional duty. And I can do two things at once.”
Klobuchar, along with Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennett have been forced off the campaign trail due to the impeachment trial, which requires mandatory attendance.
In less than two weeks, Iowa will kick off the first voting of the primary and caucus season.
Democrats privately mulling witness trade: Washington Post
The Washington Post, citing several Democratic officials, reported that a small group of Democratic senators are privately discussing the possibility of offering a trade for witnesses.
The newspaper said the group is considering offering the testimony of Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, in exchange for testimony from a top current or former Trump administration official.
Schumer says Democrats prepared for vote on every amendment
After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked Minority Leader Chuck Schumer if Democrats would consider “stacking” the rest of the amendments, the top Democrat refused.
Schumer said he would be opened to having some of the votes on Wednesday.
“There will be a good number of votes,” Schumer said on the Senate’s floor. “There’s no reason we have to do them tonight.”
Senate Republicans block amendment to subpoena Mulvaney
Senate Republicans have blocked another Democratic-offered amendment. This one was about a subpoena for acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Quick summary of where we are so far:
- A proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have imposed a tight two-day schedule for opening arguments by each side. The plan, an apparent bid by McConnell to get the trial moving quickly, also would have forced senators to vote affirmatively to consider evidence compiled by the House during its impeachment proceedings.
- The proposal drew immediate protests from Democrats, and some Republicans. McConnell quickly added an extra day for opening arguments and stipulated that evidence from the House proceedings be included in the record.
From Europe, Trump tweets
- Trump, attending a global leaders conference in Davos, Switzerland, made his feelings about impeachment clear. “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” he tweeted from overseas. The tweet referred to a summary of Trump’s phone call in which he asked new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for “a favour”.
Amendments, and more amendments rejected
- Democrats offered several amendments to the rules for the trial. The amendments would have issued subpoenas for documents and witnesses, but they were repeatedly rejected from the majority-led Senate
Charges of a cover-up
- Amid the partisan back and forth, House prosecutors and White House lawyers offered initial arguments. Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and lead prosecutor, said the rules package proposed by McConnell was “a process for a rigged trial” and a “cover-up”.
No crime, no impeachable offence
- Trump’s legal team does not dispute his actions in the Zelenskyy call. But White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, the president’s lead lawyer, said the charges against the president don’t amount to impeachable offences and that Trump committed no crime. They also say there’s no evidence that aid to Ukraine was tied to a request for an investigation of Biden and his son Hunter, a former board member of a Ukrainian gas company.
- More legal skirmishes are expected on Wednesday, and White House lawyers may move to call for the case to be dismissed, although it was not clear if they planned to pursue that option. Some Republicans have said they would oppose a dismissal vote. Absent another unexpected delay, opening arguments by both sides are likely kick off.
More amendments blocked
Senate Republicans have blocked two more Democrat-offered amendments, including one to subpoena documents for the impeachment trial and another to subpoena documents from the White House Office of Budget Management.
Democrats have introduced a new amendment to subpoena acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Very few smiles
After more than four hours of debate, the mood in the Senate was grim as both sides appear locked in opposition.
Earlier in the day, the atmosphere was expectant, even buoyant. But as the debate got started, it quickly turned as the House managers and White House defence team began to lay out their arguments.
Schumer introduces second motion
Schumer introduced a second motion demanding a subpoena of State Department records and documents be introduced in the trial. The Senate is expected to debate the motion for up to two hours.
Trump trial similar to Clinton’s
After some last-minute changes on Tuesday, the proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial are now largely similar to the ones used for the trial of former President Bill Clinton in 1999.
After approving the rules, the Senate will hear arguments from lawyers on both sides before debating whether to seek witness testimony and documents. Ultimately they will reach a final vote on the two charges against Trump.
Still, there could be some major differences with Clinton’s trial.
Clinton’s Republican prosecutors already had evidence that was compiled by then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. House Democrats who are charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings in Ukraine have had to compile their own evidence and are trying to prod witnesses who refused to testify. If there are witnesses in Trump’s trial, their testimony will be new, unlike the witnesses deposed in Clinton’s trial.
Who is Chief Justice Roberts?
US Chief Justice John Roberts is juggling dual responsibilities at the Supreme Court and President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Roberts, 64, oversaw back-to-back Supreme Court arguments in the morning then shifted gears and changed venues, walking into the Senate clutching a couple of large binders to preside over the full opening session of the impeachment trial.
Senate votes to block evidence
The US Senate voted 53 votes in favour 47 against to table, or kill Democrats’ demand for new evidence to be included in the trial.
The vote, which was along party lines is a sign the trial could proceed in Trump’s favour.
Schumer says rules resolution update shows more compromise ‘is possible’
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said a concession on Tuesday by McConnell to allow House managers three days, instead of two, to present the House’s case shows more compromise on witnesses is possible.
Schumer, speaking to reporters at the Senate, added that he thought the president’s lawyers’ case “was extremely weak” and “diversionary, nothing to do with documents and evidence”.
“Name calling, pounding the table doesn’t suffice for making arguments on the merits,” Schumer said.
Cipollone references Senators running for president
White House counsel Pat Cipollone, during his arguments on Tuesday, said some of the senators running for president and listening to the impeachment trial in Washington would rather be campaigning in Iowa.
In arguing that the political stakes were too high for a trial he said was politically motivated, Cipollone noted, “In nine months, there’s going to be an election.” He later added, “Some of you are upset because you should be in Iowa right now.”
That state’s caucuses kick off primary voting in less than two weeks. Four senators at the trial are running for the Democratic ticket.
Cipollone: ‘The president has done absolutely nothing wrong’
Trump’s lawyer, Pat Cipollone, declared the president’s innocence as he argued in support of a Republican proposal to hold off on deciding whether to allow further witnesses or documents until later in the trial.
“The only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Cipollone said.
“There is absolutely no case,” he added.
Schiff: Trump has committed a ‘trifecta of constitutional misconduct’
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who helped spearhead the House impeachment inquiry, summarised the charges against Trump during the Senate trial on Tuesday, saying the Republican president had committed a “trifecta of constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment”.
Schiff said that although the evidence against Trump was “already overwhelming,” further witness testimony was necessary to show the full scope of the misconduct of the president and those around him.
Schumer offers first amendment
Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has offered the first amendment in the impeachment trial, calling for the ability to subpoena White House Documents related to Trump dealings with Ukraine, including any withheld aid.
Trump weighs in on Senate trial from Davos
Trump has revived a familiar defence against the impeachment case against him: that the summary of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy absolves him.
“Read the transcripts!” Trump tweeted from Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the 50th World Economic Forum.
Senator urges people to call the Senate and demand witnesses and evidence
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tweeted earlier on Tuesday: “202-224-3121 is the number and ask for witnesses and documents. Thank you.”
Democrats have said they will present amendments to the rules resolution presented by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would allow for subpoaenaing witnesses and documents. McConnell said he would table any requests until after the first phase of argument presentation.
McConnell updates rules resolution
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced an updated rules resolution at the beginning of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
The original rules said House managers and Trump’s lawyers will have 24 hours over two days to present their cases. The new rules now allow 24 hours over three days.
The revised rules also allow the record of the impeachment inquiry in the House to be admitted as evidence in the Senate trial.
White House rejects Democrats’ claim that Trump’s lawyer is a material witness
The White House rejected a request from Democrats that Trump’s lawyer Pat Cipollone disclose any first-hand knowledge he had of the withholding of aid to Ukraine, which is at the crux of the Senate trial over whether Trump should be removed from office.
“The idea that the counsel to the president has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the president of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.
Impeachment trial begins in earnest
The second day of Trump’s impeachment trial began shortly before 1:30pm local time (18:30 GMT).
Schumer says he will immediately seek amendments to subpoena witnesses, documents
House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he will immediately seek amendments to the Republicans’ proposed rules for the trial that would allow for subpoenaing witnesses and documents.
Under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules proposal, the question of witnesses would not be addressed until after opening arguments and the question-answer session.
“The evidence is supposed to inform arguments, not come after they’re completed,” Schumer said.
McConnell says amendments to subpoena witnesses will be tabled
McConnell has said he will table any Democratic amendments to subpoena witnesses and documents until after the first phase of the trial.
Under McConnell’s rules proposal, the question of witnesses would not be addressed until after opening arguments and the question-answer session.
House Democratic leaders decry rules resolution
Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees and two of the managers who will present the impeachment case against Trump in the Senate, have joined their Democratic colleagues in decrying a rules resolution proposed by McConnell.
“This is not a process for a fair trial, this is the process for a rigged trial,” Schiff told reporters shortly before the beginning of the Senate trial on Tuesday. He called the resolution a “cover-up”.
Meanwhile, Nadler said: “There’s no trial in this country where you wouldn’t admit relative witnesses.”
Senate Democrats will seek to subpoena White House documents
Schumer said he will seek to amend the resolution coming later on Tuesday that outlines the procedure for Trump’s impeachment trial in order to obtain records of communications on US aid to Ukraine.
“The first amendment I will offer will ask that the Senate subpoena White House documents related to the charges against the president,” Schumer said, adding that he would introduce a series of amendments on the trial process. “No one can argue that these documents are not directly related to the charges against the president and should be reviewed by the Senate.”
Democrats: Trump lawyer Cipollone a material witness
Democrats who will argue the case to remove Trump from office demanded on Tuesday that Trump’s personal lawyer Pat Cipollone disclose any first-hand knowledge he has of evidence he will present in the Senate’s impeachment trial, calling him a material witness.
“You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts, or biases,” the House of Representatives managers wrote in a letter to Cipollone.
Trump in Davos as World Economic Forum kicks off
The 50th World Economic Forum has kicked off in Switzerland, with an agenda that is focused heavily on climate change, as world leaders struggle to tackle the crisis.
The four-day annual gathering of some of the world’s top political and business leaders in the Swiss Alps is seeking to meet head-on the dangers to both the environment and the economy from global warming.
Trump, who has repeatedly expressed scepticism about climate change, lauded the US economy in his keynote address on Tuesday morning, hours before his impeachment trial was set to get under way in Washington, DC.
Read more here.
#MitchMcCoverup trends ahead of trial’s debate on rules
Angered over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules package, Democratic supporters slammed the Republicans and called for rules they say would guarantee a fair trial. #MitchMcCoverup trended on Twitter on Monday night into Tuesday.
Many, also using #MidnightMitch, said they were outraged over the fact that under McConnell’s proposed rules, the opening arguments could go well past midnight. Others called on McConnell to allow witnesses.
Top Republican proposes speedy trial, with long days;
McConnell on Monday proposed a rules package that envisioned a speedy trial, with long days scheduled for opening arguments.
The resolution would allow House managers, who work as prosecutors, up to 24 hours over the course of two days to present their case. Trump’s defence team would have the same amount of time. The arguments would be followed by 16 hours for questions and answers from senators, and then four hours of debate.
Democrats slammed the resolution, calling it a “national disgrace”. While the Democrats are expected to propose amendments, Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority and their preferred rules package is expected to pass.
Source: Al Jazeera