This week: Raucous rules fight, opening arguments in impeachment trial
© Greg Nash

The Senate is diving into President TrumpDonald John TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest MORE’s impeachment trial after a weeks-long delay stemming from the standoff between Democrats and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic For city parks: Pass the Great American Outdoors Act now MORE (R-Ky.). 

After swearing in Chief Justice John Roberts and senators late last week, the chamber is set to use a five-day workweek to get through a heated fight over the impeachment trial rules and then opening arguments by both the House managers and Trump’s legal team. 

Senate Republicans want to fast-track Trump’s impeachment trial, according to text of the rules resolution that McConnell’s office circulated on Monday night. 


Under the resolution, both House managers and Trump’s lawyers will get 24 hours each to present their initial case, similar to the Clinton trial. But unlike the 1999 proceeding, both sides will only have two session days each to present their case. 

A Senate Republican leadership aide noted that in 1999 both sides used less than 12 hours over a three day period, arguing that the McConnell resolution “provides the same time but more structure for the arguments.” 

The resolution does not require that senators call additional witnesses or compel the White House to hand over additional documents related to the Ukraine aid, and it does not allow evidence from the House impeachment inquiry to be entered into the Senate trial record until after the question of additional witnesses and documents receives consideration.

But in a win for a coalition of moderates, the rules resolution does include a vote after opening arguments and questions from senators on “whether it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents." 

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCongress flying blind: Why now is the time to revive the Office of Technology Assessment Trump asserts his power over Republicans Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight MORE (R-Utah), the only senator who has specifically said he wants to hear from national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHave the courage to recognize Taiwan McConnell says Obama administration 'did leave behind' pandemic plan Trump company lawyer warned Michael Cohen not to write 'tell-all' book: report MORE, appeared to endorse the rules resolution on Monday night. 

"Overall, it aligns closely with the [Clinton] rules package,” Romney said. "If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.” 


The Senate is expected to debate and vote on the rules package on Tuesday. Though McConnell has the 51 votes needed to enact the rules, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJudd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight Federal judges should be allowed to be Federalist Society members MORE (D-N.Y.) is vowing to force a slew of amendment votes on Tuesday. 

“As soon as Senator McConnell offers this resolution, I will be offering amendments to address the many flaws in this deeply unfair proposal and to subpoena the witnesses and documents we have requested,” Schumer said. 

Democrats want to compel the White House to hand over documents related to the delayed Ukraine aid at the heart of the impeachment effort. They also want to call four witnesses: Bolton, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE, Mulvaney’s senior adviser Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, the associate director of national security at the Office of Management.

They would need four GOP senators to vote with them to be able to call witnesses at any point in the trial. 

Though senators are blocked from speaking on the floor during the impeachment trial, the Senate’s consideration of the rules resolution is expected to stretch on for hours. 

Any amendment, according to aides, can receive up to two hours of debates split between the House managers and Trump’s legal team. The Senate could also vote to go into closed session, meaning the cameras are turned off and reporters and staff are removed from the chamber, so that senators can speak. 

After the Senate passes the rules resolution on Tuesday it will be in order under the impeachment rules for Trump’s team to make a motion to dismiss. The procedural maneuver would need 51 votes to successfully end the trial, something members of GOP leadership have said they don’t have. 

The Senate is expected to turn to opening arguments from house managers on Wednesday. 

House Democrats filed a 111-page brief over the weekend arguing that Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors — charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and lay out the evidence and legal analysis they intend to present.

“The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty of both. The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths,” the brief reads. “History will judge each Senator’s willingness to rise above partisan differences, view the facts honestly, and defend the Constitution.”

Under the rules resolution being proposed by McConnell, House managers would get Wednesday and Thursday to make their case. 

Friday and Saturday would be then given to Trump’s team. The Senate impeachment trial will not be in session on Sunday.

Trump’s lawyers filed its brief on Monday, urging the Senate to “swiftly” acquit the president. 

"The Articles of Impeachment now before the Senate are an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions. The Articles themselves—and the rigged process that brought them here—are a brazenly political act by House Democrats that must be rejected," the brief states. 

Trump’s legal team will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow. The White House announced on Monday night that it was appointing several House Republicans, including Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Mark Meadows (N.C.) and Doug Collins (Ga.), as advisers to his legal team. 


With the House out of session this week, the impeachment trial is largely grinding other work in Capitol to a halt. 

Senate committees cannot have votes during the impeachment trial without consent. There are currently only three hearings scheduled this week all set for Wednesday. 

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the Economic Development Administration, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will have a hearing on 5G, and the Senate Intelligence Committee is having a closed-door briefing.