Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public

House Democrats gearing up to take impeachment to the Senate are already bashing Republicans over process, accusing GOP leaders in the upper chamber of threatening to shut the public out of the trial by chopping the number of days — and thereby forcing proceedings late into the night.

"That is a complete sham," a Democratic aide working on impeachment said Sunday evening. "That would be trying to hide the president's misconduct in the dead of night."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request MORE (R-Ky.) has said repeatedly that he intends to model the rules of Trump's impeachment trial on those that governed the trial of President Clinton in 1999. Then, House prosecutors were allowed 24 hours to make their case, and Clinton's lawyers were allowed the same window to offer their defense. Afterwards, senators had 16 hours to ask questions about the case.

But McConnell has yet to unveil the details of his rules resolution, leading to plenty of questions and conflicting statements from speculating senators as they try to decipher the majority leader's plan.

On Sunday, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Booker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programs Three Senate primaries to watch on Super Tuesday MORE (R-Texas) predicted the trial phase would feature floor proceedings "probably on the order of six hours a day." Yet Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), also speaking Sunday, said the GOP plan would be to limit the opening statements from both sides to two days apiece, while keeping the allotted hours at 24.

"So doing some quick math here ... That means 12 hours a day of trial presentation, not including breaks," said the Democratic aide, noting that the daily trial proceedings are expected to start at 1 p.m. "So then the question is: is Sen. McConnell going to force the House managers to present 12 hours of testimony on Wednesday that will go til 2 or 3 in the morning?

"It is just another example of Sen. McConnell's efforts to cover up the president's misconduct."

In Clinton's impeachment, each side used three days, though neither side used all of its allotted 24 hours.

The comments arrived shortly after Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTop intelligence community lawyer leaving position Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Democrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump MORE (D-Calif.), the Democrats' lead impeachment manager, huddled in the Capitol with most of the his prosecutorial team. Joined by top aides and attorneys on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, the lawmakers are honing their message and strategy ahead of the trial, which launches Tuesday with a debate on the rules resolution.

Democrats aren't expecting opening arguments to begin until Wednesday, but absent the details of McConnell's rules package, they're preparing for anything.

"The managers will be ready to go Tuesday," said the aide.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Malaysia says it will choose 5G partners based on own standards, not US recommendations MORE (D-Calif.) had named the seven Democratic impeachment managers just last Wednesday, and there are plenty of questions about what role each of them will play as the trial progresses.

A second Democratic aide on Sunday shed some light on that topic, revealing that each of the seven managers would "repeatedly" play a part in the public presentation of arguments and evidence.

"You're going to hear from all the House impeachment managers," the second aide said. "They will each have their own role. They're each preparing. They each bring deep experience to this."

On Monday, Schiff and members of his impeachment team are scheduled to meet again in the Capitol to polish their case a final time. They'll also take advantage of the empty Capitol building — Monday is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday — to conduct a walk-through of the Senate floor.

Meantime, they'll be pressing McConnell for more details of the trial structure — and making a case to voters that the process is anything but transparent.

"The notion that the House managers are going into a trial that begins on Tuesday without knowing what the structure is, is completely unfathomable," said the first Democratic aide. "It would never, ever happen in any other court of law around this country."