House managers accuse McConnell of setting up 'rigged' trial

The team of House Democrats arguing their case for impeachment in the Senate are slamming the trial resolution put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBossie, Lewandowski warned Trump he was in trouble in 2020: report FISA 'reform': Groundhog Day edition The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter MORE (R-Ky.), describing the compressed schedule as an attempt to cover up President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE's conduct.

The resolution, circulated by McConnell on Monday night, would give the House Democrats 24 hours over the course of two days to make their opening arguments to impeach and remove Trump from office over his contacts with Ukraine. The same time constraints would be placed on the White House team defending Trump.

“A White House-driven and rigged process, with a truncated schedule designed to go late into the night and further conceal the President’s misconduct, is not what the American people expect or deserve," the impeachment managers wrote in a statement.


They disputed that McConnell followed the Clinton impeachment model — as the GOP leader said he intended to do — arguing that his resolution rejects the necessity of receiving documents from the White House before the trial starts.

“His resolution deviates sharply from the Clinton precedent — and common sense — in an effort to prevent the full truth of the President’s misconduct from coming to light," they write. "In the Clinton case, the President provided all of the documents — more than 90,000 pages of them — before the trial took place. McConnell’s resolution rejects that basic necessity."

The schedule set up by McConnell is also more condensed than during the Clinton trial. While impeachment managers in the Clinton trial also had 24 hours to present their case, it was over three days.

A Senate GOP leadership aide said that prosecutors in the Clinton trial did not use all of the allotted time given to them and that they concluded their arguments within three days.

Democrats argue McConnell's resolution will likely mean lawmakers presenting the case against Trump will be speaking in the Senate gallery late into the night and early into the next morning if they are to use the 24 hours, given the 1 p.m. starting point for the presentation of arguments on Wednesday and Thursday.

House Democrats also will not be able to admit evidence into the record until after the opening arguments in the Senate trial conclude, which marks another departure from the Clinton model.


And while the GOP aide argued that McConnell set it up this way because Trump’s lawyers did not have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses at the House hearings, the White House had opted not to participate in the House hearings. House GOP allies at the time warned that doing so would lend credence that it was a legitimate process, which went against the administration's talking point that the impeachment inquiry was a "sham."

Another sticking point for Democrats is that the resolution punts the vote for additional witnesses until after opening arguments. And while doing so follows the Clinton model, Democrats say the Clinton White House did not block Congress from receiving testimony and witnesses like the Trump White House has, and they have expressed concern that McConnell will seek to block witnesses from testifying by saying the Senate has heard enough.

Democrats want to hear from top Trump officials like acting White House 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 and former 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, who said publicly earlier this month that he would testify before the GOP-controlled Senate if subpoenaed.

Still, moderate Republicans preferred the language of this resolution that will require a debate followed by a vote on subpoenaing new witnesses and documents.

The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution Tuesday.

In the days approaching the Senate trial, House Democrats have called on the Senate to be a fair arbiter of justice, arguing that a fair trial includes additional witness testimony and receiving new documents. Anything less, they warn, would be a derelict of duty as impartial jurors. 

The attack by Democrats, however, is one they will likely sharpen in the coming weeks.