Ahead of US senate trial, Democrats call it ‘rigged’; Trump says it’s ‘disgraceful’
Chuck Schumer, the senate Democratic leader, called the resolution a “national disgrace”, which, he said to reporters, seemed like it was “written in the White House and not written in the senate”.Updated: Jan 21, 2020 23:36 IST
US Senate started Tuesday the trial to remove President Donald Trump with a contentious debate on rules and procedures as the president continued to rail against it, this time from 4,000 miles away in Davos, calling it “disgraceful” and his defense team slammed it as a “brazenly political” act in a legal brief.
“This is not a process for a fair trial, this ai a process for a rigged trial,” Adam Schiff, head of the House intelligence committee and lead manager for the Democrats, told reporters ahead of the start of the trial, referring to an “organizing resolution” containing rules of the process introduced by Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican-led senate, on Monday.
Chuck Schumer, the senate Democratic leader, called the resolution a “national disgrace”, which, he said to reporters, seemed like it was “written in the White House and not written in the senate”.
Democrats have said they will be proposing a slew of changes in the resolution later demanding, chiefly, documents relevant to the coercion of Ukraine to probe Trump’s political rivals and obstructing congress, new witnesses and the admission of evidence presented in the House. They are also objecting to the “compressing” of the time of 24 hours allotted side to wrap it up in two days.
This effort and the accompanying debate could last all of the opening day of the trial, which technically started last Friday with the swearing in of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to preside over the trial and senators to act as jurors.
President Trump, who reached Davos Monday for the World Economic Forum, is keeping an eye on the trial.“It’s a witch hunt that’s been going on for years and it’s, frankly, it’s disgraceful,” he said before a speech there. And added, after, “That whole thing is a total hoax, so I’m sure it is going to work out fine.”
It will, indeed. With Republicans in charge of the Senate, the outcome of the trial is a foregone conclusion, Trump will be acquitted. McConnell is also making sure, through the resolution on rules, to make it a short and quick process, which could end by the middle of next week if he has his way.
Democrats have accused him of staging a “rigged trial” and a “cover up”. But they will try and force the chamber to call for votes on, say, the question of calling witnesses, to put pressure on moderate Republican senators or those facing elections in swing states, and force them to switch.
They need to break away four Republican senators to prevail in these procedural votes, but there is no pathway for them to prise away enough to get to a two-thirds majority, which is needed to convict the president and remove him from office, making Trump the first American president to be evicted from the White House in this manner.
Only two other presidents faced impeachment trials in the senate before, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. They were both acquitted. Richard Nixon, the third president to face impeachment, resigned during the House investigation; he was never impeached and his case never went before the senate.