President Trump Senate impeachment trial breakdown: Week two
The Senate impeachment trial resumed Monday, Jan. 27, when President Trump’s legal counsel continued its defense arguments. The decision to admit additional witnesses remained obscure.
The events following the commencement of week two confirm that the president’s predicted acquittal is all but certain.
Below is the breakdown for week two of the Senate impeachment trial.
President Donald Trump’s defense team continued its opening arguments on Monday after using two of the allotted 24 hours the previous Saturday.
Council member Pat Cipollone and other defense lawyers pushed for acquittal, arguing that the president’s actions involving Ukraine do not constitutionally warrant removal from office.
His legal team attempted to poke holes in the Democrats’ case, accusing House Managers of using specific legal jargon to publically further the narrative that President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine caused a constitutional incongruence.
“Quid pro quo alone is not a basis for abuse of power,” defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz said.
Senators and Representatives were also focused on news breaking outside the Senate floor after word spread that Former National Security Advisor John Bolton detailed a private conversation between himself and the president in which Trump explicitly stated he would withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine if the Biden investigation was not conducted.
This revelation gave Democrats the fire power they needed to reinforce the need for additional witnesses, such as Bolton, who already confirmed he is willing to testify. However, the decision to issue subpoenas will be decided after the president’s defense team concludes its opening arguments.
The president’s defense team concluded its opening arguments on Tuesday, choosing not to use all of its designated 24 hours.
The council reiterated that the two articles of impeachment against the president are neither grounds for impeachment nor removal from office. They argued that the quid pro quo was a legitimate executive action made by the president over concerns of corruption in Ukraine.
The president’s legal team also warned senators that voting to remove President Trump for the House’s allegations would set a dangerous precedent for future presidents and further divide the country.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took this time to announce that he did not yet have enough votes to block House Democrats from subpoenaing additional witnesses.
After The New York Times revealed Bolton’s manuscript contents, senators agreed that Bolton’s testimony should be heard.
“It's important to be able to hear from John Bolton for us to make an impartial judgement,” Senator Mitt Romney said.
Democrats required at least four senators to back the initiative. Though Senator Romney confirmed that Bolton’s manuscript made the admittance of additional witnesses and documentation more likely, the decision was still uncertain.
Days eight and nine:
With the conclusion of opening arguments by both sides, senators dedicated the next two days to a Q&A session, as outlined by McConnell’s resolution earlier in the trial.
Senators filled out hand-written inquiry cards for hours, asking questions regarding the details of the cases presented by house managers and President Trump’s defense team.
The big question that lawmakers deliberated over concerned the long-awaited question of whether four additional witnesses and documents would be admitted.
The Senate voted against subpoenaing additional witnesses and documentation -- a decision that has lingered over the trial since it’s commencement two weeks ago.
In a 51-49 vote, all but two senators, Romney and Susan Collins, decided against the Democratic initiative.
The verdict did not come as much of a surprise to trial members after the loss of support from Senators Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander. Democrats were dependent on Murkowski and Alexander’s votes in order to achieve the four senator threshold necessary for approval.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the decision a “grand tragedy.”
The Senate vote will expedite the impeachment trial process, stripping the Democrats of the opportunity to possibly steer the Senate’s anticipated verdict away from acquittal, as they had hoped.
Republicans and Democrats argued both sides of the same “dangerous” coin -- GOP Senators are pleased with the verdict as they believe they avoided a “partisan impeachment,” while House Democrats warn that a precedent has been set that will compromise Congress’ impeachment power in its entirety.
McConnell presented a final resolution following the vote, outlining the schedule for the next few days as the impeachment trial winds down. Closing arguments will begin Monday, Feb. 3, final speeches from Senators will occur Monday through Wednesday and the final decision of whether to remove President Trump from office will be made Wednesday, Feb. 3, where he is expected to be acquitted.
With the Senate trial now coming to a head, many Americans are anxious to see how the Democrat’s pursuit for removal will impact the 2020 Presidential Election. Speculation suggests that the partisan nature of the impeachment trial may help the president in his race for reelection.
“With this (impeachment) all looking very political, Trump is definitely going to have the people amped up to fight for him,” Former U.S. Representative Tom Rooney said. “People will be more motivated to support him.”
Anticipated victories on both the Senate floor and in November may confirm Democratic concerns of the impeachment being a poor political strategy.
“There is usually public kickback with things like this unless it’s a ‘slam dunk’, which this never was,” Rooney added. “This was poor both politically and substantively.”
The next legislative steps for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remain unclear if Wednesday’s vote results in an acquittal, though it is presumed House Democrats will focus on passing new legislation to bolster Democratic presidential candidates to beat him in the polls.
By Haley Hartner