President Trump Senate impeachment trial breakdown: Week one
The United States Senate trial to decide whether President Donald Trump will be removed from office following his impeachment in the House of Representatives commenced Tuesday, Jan. 21.
Democrats from the House of Representatives and House managers have been on the Senate floor all week working to convince senators that their two proposed articles of constitutional incongruence on behalf of the president warrant a removal from office.
Here is the breakdown of what happened the first week of the impeachment trial:
Fiery debates over the proceedings of the trial dominated the first day of the trial as House Democrats and senators disputed the “fairness” of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed resolution, outlining the trial’s rules for the days to come.
After a day of dissention that lasted until nearly 2 a.m., the Senate voted to adopt a set of rules almost entirely on its own after tabling all of the 11 resolution amendments presented by House Manager Chuck Schumer.
At the last minute, however, McConnell made a few handwritten changes on his proposed resolution, making President Trump’s trial closer in likeness to that of former President Bill Clinton’s in 1999 and satisfying some Democratic concerns.
Republicans and Democrats will each have 24 hours over a span of three days to present their cases, rather than the two days McConnell had originally put forth.
Further, rather than waiting for senators to vote on and potentially bar evidence presented by Democrats from being in the Senate record, all evidence will be automatically admitted unless there is an objection.
The resolution also postpones the vote to decide if new witnesses will be subpoenaed until after both sides have presented their cases.
The decision to include these amendments, as well as to table the 11 propositions by Schumer, was voted for almost unanimously along party lines, 53-47.
House Democrats began their first day of opening arguments on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Head prosecutor Adam Schiff and other House managers outlined the two allegations against
President Donald Trump stated in the impeachment articles, accusing him of abusing his power against Ukraine for political gain and obstruction of Congress.
As stated in the articles, Democrats charged the president with manipulating Ukraine into orchestrating a public investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden by using military support and a coveted White House visit as leverage.
President Trump is also charged with obstructing Congress by insisting that members of the Executive Branch, including himself, refuse to comply with subpoenas sent by Congress during the Ukraine investigation.
Schiff warned that not removing the president from office would result in a “permanent alter to the balance of power among the branches of government.”
Democrats also used this time to further the initiative to admit additional witnesses, especially former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
President Trump publicly advised against doing so, stating that top-level officials, like Bolton, may reveal classified information about his foriegn relations in their testimonies, creating a possible national security risk.
The final decision to admit additional witnesses and documentation will be made only after House Democrats and the president’s legal council have finished presenting their opening arguments.
President Trump’s legal team also declined to file for a motion to dismiss today.
The president and his defense are preparing for a victorious ending to the trial, as he and other lawmakers predict that the conservative Senate will vote to acquit him.
For their second day of opening arguments, Democrats focused on detailing the first article of impeachment, in which President Trump is accused of abusing his power in his foreign relationship with Ukraine.
House managers argue there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the accusation that President Trump acted corruptly in an attempt to manipulate the results of the 2020 presidential election in his favor.
“The evidence against Donald Trump is hiding in plain sight,” Representative Hakeem Jeffereis said.
The prosecution included a series of video clips and statements of certain members of the Senate and the president’s defense from the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.
Democrats referenced a video of Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the House of
Representatives during the preceding trial, in which he argued that a “high crime” is not always technical in definition.
“Acting in a way that hurts people” can be considered a high crime punishable by removal from office, according to Graham.
House managers continued to advocate for the testimonies of Former National Security Advisor John Bolton and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, while denying speculation that the prosecution would allow one of the Bidens to testify in exchange for a testimony from one of their higher-level witnesses, such as Bolton.
House Democrats completed their third and final day of opening arguments on Friday, Jan. 24.
The prosecution reiterated the charges behind both articles of impeachment, again concluding that the evidence supporting abuse of power on behalf of President Donald Trump is substantial.
Representative Jerry Nadler compared President Trump’s behavior to that of a “dictator,” indicating a present danger to U.S. democracy if the president were not removed for his actions.
The democrats concluded their opening arguments by asking the Senate to facilitate a fair trial, despite predictions that the conservative Senate already has its mind set on acquittal.
Impeachment manager Adam Schiff pleaded with Senators, saying, “Give America a fair trial. She’s worth it.”
President Donald Trump’s defense team took the Senate floor to begin their first day of opening arguments.
The president’s team immediately sought out to discredit the House’s first article of impeachment, which states that Trump pressured Ukraine for political gain.
White House Defense Council Pat Cipollone and Deputy Michael Purpura claimed that House managers elected to withhold specific information in their account of the president’s interactions with Ukraine.
Cipollone stated the prosecution chose to omit that Ukrainian officials were unknowing of U.S. aid being withheld until August -- almost a month after the president’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The defense council told senators that the entirety of the House’s case against the president was based on speculation, questioning the integrity of the articles as a whole.
Cipollone and Purpura also challenged House Manager Adam Schiff after playing a video of Schiff blatantly embellishing the president’s call to Zelenskiy. Though Schiff had explained he was trying to summarize the phone call, the defense used this to their advantage.
The White House Council “entirely shredded” the Democrat’s case, according to Senator Joni Ernst.
The Senate and President Trump’s defense team will reconvene on Monday, Jan. 27 to proceed with the defense’s opening arguments. The trial is predicted to continue through mid-February.
By Haley Hartner