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Here Are the Senate Rules for Trump's Trial and How McConnell Plans to Expedite It

01-21-2020
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Trump

The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump gets underway today, and even before the gavel strike, the two sides have been going head to head, arguing over the rules of the process.

The White House legal team argues the president of the United States did not abuse his power or obstruct Congress, calling the case against him "flawed" and a "dangerous perversion of the Constitution."

As the Senate takes up the articles of impeachment, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed the ground rules for the trial late Monday afternoon.

Senate Trial Rules

Those rules call for several grueling 12-hour-long sessions designed to bring the trial to a quicker conclusion.

McConnell wants to give each side 24 hours spread over four days for opening statements with no guarantee that witnesses or new evidence would be allowed during the proceedings.

After that, senators will be given 16 hours to question the prosecution and defense teams, followed by four hours of debate.

Then there will be a vote to decide if the trial should continue.

Senate 'Cover-up' or 'Rigged' House Hearings?

McConnell's Democratic counterpart, Chuck Schumer, called the rules proposals a "cover-up" and rushed and vowed to press for a vote on the Senate floor on the matter of permitting new witnesses and documents.

"It's clear McConnell is hell bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through," Schumer said.

WATCH TODAY: CBN News LIVE Coverage of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump

Republicans pushed back on that argument.

"And so now it goes over to the Senate, and all of a sudden, after a rigged process in the House, they want to call for a fair trial for more witnesses because they did not do their job in the House," argued Steve Scalise, the House Minority Whip. "It is not the Senate's job to mop up the mess of the House, it was a clearly a witch hunt from the beginning."

The Charges Against Trump

House Democrats impeached the president last month on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

President Trump's defense team released a 110-page brief Tuesday saying he did neither and that the charges against him do not constitute a crime or impeachable offense, calling on the Senate to reject the charges immediately and acquit the president.

"The position is that he didn't do any of these things, that he is innocent as a matter of fact," argued, Alan Dershowitz, the president's constitutional representative.

The senators are set to begin debating the rules when the trial begins at 1 pm today. The president himself is not in Washington. He is at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland.

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