What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial

What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial
© Getty

On day two of the Senate impeachment trial, House managers will focus their efforts on pushing President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE’s defense team to respond to the substance of the charges against him, instead of concentrating on procedural arguments as Republicans have done in recent months.

But before Democrats can make the case for the articles accusing Trump of abuse of power over his dealings with Ukraine and obstruction of Congress, both sides will have to get through the first round of motions that may come up now that the Senate has set its rules for the trial.

The organizing resolution adopted by the Senate early Wednesday morning gives the White House the right to make a motion to dismiss right after the trial rules are adopted.


Such a motion, however, is not expected as Senate Republicans have cautioned for weeks that any effort to dismiss the case before hearing opening arguments does not have the 51 votes need to pass.

Under the organizing resolution introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (R-Ky.) and adopted by a party-line vote of 53-47, the president’s lawyers and the House managers have until 9 a.m. Wednesday to file any motions permitted under the rules.

In addition to a motion to dismiss, Trump’s legal team could offer motions to add evidence to the record or dismiss evidence in the record.

Both sides are required to file their responses to such motions no later than 11 a.m.

Arguments on any motions submitted are required to begin at 1 p.m. and the Senate will then deliberate and vote on the matters.

McConnell ordered early Wednesday that the chamber reconvene as a court of impeachment at 1 p.m. Wednesday to resume the proceedings.


Following the disposition of the motions, the House impeachment managers shall begin to make their presentation in support of the articles of impeachment.

They have 24 hours to make their case over three days, setting up eight-hour daily sessions of arguments if all the time is used.

Both sides spent much of Tuesday, the first day of the trial after last week’s ceremonial open, clashing back and forth over the trial’s rules as Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.) forced repeated votes on subpoenas for additional witnesses and documents. Each of the amendments was rejected in a party-line vote.

Now Senate Democrats say they expect the House prosecutors to lay out a comprehensive factual case arguing that Trump purposely directed his subordinates to hold up military aide to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats redefine center as theirs collapses Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' MORE.

The opening arguments are expected to track the legal briefs filed by House Democrats over the weekend.

The House argued in a 111-page brief filed Saturday that the Senate should convict Trump of abusing his power because he exercised his official power to pressure Ukraine to aid his reelection and jeopardized U.S. national interests.

The impeachment managers argued that senators should find Trump guilty of obstruction of Congress because he blocked relevant information that the House had a constitutional right to review.

They will back up their arguments by pointing to the lengthy record of fact compiled by the House Intelligence Committee’s investigations and hearings. Their brief included 193 points of material fact spanning 61 pages.

House managers will have a chance to rebut Trump’s legal defenses, including the argument presented in a 110-page brief filed Monday that their case rests on “a made-up theory” that the president can be impeached “under an amorphous and undefined standard of ‘abuse of power.’ ”

Trump’s lawyers argued in their brief that House Democrats’ claims that the Constitution’s Framers established Congress’s impeachment power to guard against foreign entanglements and corruption of elections as a “distortion of history.”

The House managers responded in an eight-page brief filed Monday, citing “overwhelming evidence” to convict Trump of Article I, the accusation of abuse of power.

Their brief also pointed to the president’s “categorical and indiscriminate defiance” of House subpoenas as justification to conflict the president on Article II, obstruction of Congress.

“At his personal direction, nine officials refused subpoenas to testify and the White House, Office of Management and Budget and Departments of State, Defense and Energy all defied valid subpoenas for documents,” they wrote.

Senators say they’re eager to move on with the trial after fighting for nearly 12 hours over an organizing resolution to set up the trial’s procedures, a debate that last until nearly 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

“Having heard many of the objections both on the floor from the president’s advocates and through their brief, I would expect a really comprehensive and vigorous presentation by the House managers,” said Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump McConnell displays mastery of Senate with impeachment victory Senate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle MORE (D-Del.).

Trump’s lawyers say they are ready to argue the facts.

“Let the president make his case. We’re ready to get this started. The House managers should be as well,” Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, argued Tuesday night after Democrats forced a vote on another subpoena.

The president’s defense team is not expected to offer a motion to immediately dismiss the articles of impeachment and instead push for a full acquittal by the Senate.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a dismissal and I think a dismissal is not nearly as good an outcome for the president and the country as will be a final judgment on the merits,” said Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz 'impresses' his daughter with Chris Evans meeting Three Senate primaries to watch on Super Tuesday The advantage of paying for medical care directly MORE (R-Texas), one of the White House’s loyal allies.