- Trump is the third president of the United States to be subjected to an impeachment trial.
- By a 53 to 47 vote, the Senate rejected three Democratic proposals to obtain documents and evidence at the trial.
- A two-thirds vote of the Senate— which is 67 out of 100— is needed to remove Trump from office.
The United States Senate early Wednesday morning, after 13 hours of debate, set the rules for the impeachment trial of American President Donald Trump. The Republican majority rejected all attempts by Democrats to call new witnesses against the president. The trial resumed this afternoon, local time.
Trump is the third President in the history of the United States to be subjected to an impeachment trial. He is accused of abuse of power for pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation against Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for the White House. His son, Hunter Biden, was an adviser to a Ukrainian gas company.
The second accusation, for obstruction of Congress, was for instructing members of the administration not to give depositions. The president, on his part, denies the accusations, insisting that it is witch hunt by the Democratic opposition. Yesterday, the beginning of the session was marked by controversies, mainly because the Republicans barred 11 amendments presented by the Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to quote key witnesses and obtain documents.
“The McConnell rules seem to be designed by President Trump, for President Trump. It asks the Senate to rush through as fast as possible and makes getting evidence as hard as possible,” Schumer warned at the beginning of the trial. “The McConnell resolution will result in a rushed trial with little evidence in the dark of night,” he added.
The move is yet another indication that the impeachment against Trump is likely to end with the acquittal of the president, who will seek re-election in the United States’ next presidential elections, set to take place in November, this year. The rules defined confirm the project presented by the leader of the Republican Majority, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). According to the schedule, the prosecution and defense will have a period of 24 hours— divided into three sessions of eight hours each— to present the initial arguments.
Soon after, the senators will have 16 hours for questioning. Another vote will define whether or not the Senate will hear witnesses who did not testify during the investigation phase in the House. Democrats want to hear from top White House advisers who worked closely with Trump, including interim chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Despite the insistence, by a 53 to 47 vote, the Senate rejected three Democratic proposals to obtain documents and evidence at the trial.
The Republican majority also blocked Schumer’s motion to call on officials and amendments to require access to State Department records and the White House Budget Office. McConnell had already promised to obstruct any attempt to circumvent the procedure by means of amendments, which, in fact, happened. “If any amendments are brought forward to force premature decisions on mid-trial questions, I will move to table such amendments,” he said.
A two-thirds vote of the Senate— which is 67 out of 100— is needed to remove Trump from office. The Democratic minority has 47 senators, including two independents. In other words, 20 of the 53 Republicans would need to vote for removal, something that, in the current scenario, will only happen if something new emerges.