While Senate Republicans stayed united against Democratic attempts to change impeachment rules put in place by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the long hours had lawmakers struggling to stay awake, while some appeared to be dosing off during the first day of the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.
The late night arguments – repeated over and over again – by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, (D-CA), had some lawmakers wondering if the night would ever come to an end. Schiff, who is the lead prosecutor for the Democrats, was basically reiterating everything he had said during the House impeachment proceedings.
I was literally falling asleep, waking up and Schiff was still talking. I was wondering if it would ever come to an end.
It did, eventually, after midnight.
And by early Wednesday morning (that is after midnight) the Senate approved the rules for the impeachment trial on a strict party-line vote. There were only minor changes made by McConnell to the original rules and that would be to delay the vote on the question of whether the Senate should subpoena witnesses. Those subpoena’s would come later in the trial.
President Trump’s attorney’s Pat Cipollone argued before lawmakers Tuesday that the president neither obstructed justice, nor is there any evidence to suggest a ‘quid pro quo’ in the transcript released by the White House regarding Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Democrats have accused the president of withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden sat on the board of an allegedly corrupt Ukrainian Energy company Burisma Holdings collecting millions of dollars even though he had no experience in the energy sector and his father at the time was overseeing Ukraine policy for the Obama Administration.
“They’re not here to steal one election,” said Cipollone. “They’re here to steal two elections. A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election. And that’s exactly what we have.”
“They are asking the Senate to attack one of the most sacred rights we have as Americans, the right to choose our president,” he added. “In an election year. It’s never been done before. It shouldn’t be done.”
All in all it was a grueling battle of words that left Republicans with a win over Democrat attempts to remove the President from office. Why? Because Senate Republicans stayed united.
The only Republican Senator that veered off course was Susan Collins of Maine. She did break with Republicans on one vote. It was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s 10th amendment proposal that would allow each side 24 hours to respond to the trial motions. Those are expected Wednesday morning. The vote failed 52-48.
McConnell’s rules resolution was approved 53-47. Republicans defeated the litany series of amendments from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had proposed 11 amendments. He wanted to subpoena a multitude of documents from the White House. He also wanted witnesses – including White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton – but they were voted down on party lines.
McConnell’s rules will allow House managers and the White House to have 24 hours to make their case and give Senators 16 hours to ask questions. This is the same set of rule’s used during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
Senator Marsha Blackburn pointed out after the impeachment proceedings a very crucial point. She said “first, the Democratic House impeachment managers told us the evidence against President Trump was ‘overwhelming.’ Right after, we heard there wasn’t enough evidence, and we would need to allow additional testimony in order to get it.”
It is a point that needs to be made over and over again. Why should Democrats – who told the American public that they had overwhelming evidence to impeach in the House – be given the opportunity to continue their fishing expedition for crimes? No judge would accept this argument in any court.
“House Democrats had ample opportunity to seek testimony from the witnesses they are now requesting, but they decided instead to rush through their unsubstantiated articles of impeachment,” Blackburn said. “The Democrats are entangled in an intellectually dishonest effort to force a constitutional challenge against executive privilege in the name of taking down President Trump at all costs. We don’t need more testimony – we need less abuse of the Constitution, less mania and zero impeachment do overs. President Trump, like any American, has the right to seek relief in the courts, and if Democrats will punish him for this right, they will do it to anyone. Enough is enough.”