Senate set for closing arguments on impeachment
The Senate is scheduled to convene as a court of impeachment at 11 a.m. Monday to hear the closing arguments on whether to remove President Trump from office.
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won a big victory Friday when they defeated a push by Democrats to subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton and other witnesses, suffering only two GOP defections on the key procedural vote.
On Monday, senators will hear four hours of closing arguments, the time equally divided between the House impeachment manager and the president’s lawyers.
The impeachment managers are likely to emphasize recent statements by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and other Republicans conceding that Trump ordered aid to Ukraine held in order to spur an investigation of Vice President Joe Biden.
While Alexander said the action didn’t warrant impeachment, he and other senators have criticized Trump’s actions.
The House managers will argue, however, if senators agree that Trump tried to use his authority to get a foreign country to influence the upcoming election, it is their constitutional duty to remove him from office for abuse of power.
The presidents’ lawyers are likely to focus on the arguments laid out last week by Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, another member of the Trump legal team. Dershowitz, an opinion contributor for The Hill, contended that removing a president from office must require the violation of an actual law — a threshold a number of other constitutional scholars disagree with.
They will also hammer the point that removing Trump from office and the ballot only nine months before the general election would be a subversion of democracy.
The Senate on Monday afternoon will adjourn as an impeachment court once the closing arguments are finished and reconvene as a legislative body so that senators will have a chance to debate the articles of impeachment.
Under the Senate’s impeachment rules, senators are not allowed to deliver remarks or engage in colloquies. Under regular legislative procedures, they will be able to do so.
Two key moderates, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), among others, had pressed for the opportunity to speak on the floor to explain their votes on the articles of impeachment. Collins voted Friday to subpoena additional evidence and extend the trial while Murkowski did not.
Each senator will get 10 minutes to speak on the floor and the debate could go well into the evening. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is scheduled to preside over the chamber from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday in case senators want to speak that late.
The Senate is scheduled to debate the impeachment articles in legislative session on Monday afternoon, Tuesday and Wednesday.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Senate will reconvene as a court to vote on the articles of impeachment, with each senator expected to rise at his or her desk to announce whether or not Trump should be removed from office.
Following the vote, the trial will immediately conclude Wednesday afternoon.
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