WASHINGTON – The rules and general procedures outlining how the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will move forward were set with the passage of a resolution along party lines after a marathon Senate session that stretched into early Wednesday.
Democrats put forward 11 amendments that would have issued subpoenas to current and former Trump administration officials and to various government entities for relevant documents and information. All were defeated in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The resolution calls for opening statements to begin Wednesday at 1 p.m. Both sides will each have 24 hours over three to days to argue the case.
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Here’s at what happened Tuesday ahead of the eventual passage of the resolution:
Moderate Republicans pushed for McConnell to tweak resolution
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., originally proposed allowing the House managers prosecuting the case and Trump’s defense team 24 hours over two days to present their cases. McConnell’s first version of the resolution also did not automatically enter evidence gathered by the House into the Senate’s record.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, joined Democrats in criticizing the resolution and led a push to change McConnell’s proposal to more closely mirror the format of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. She said the final version was a “significant improvement.”
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Roberts admonishes both sides
Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both the House managers and the president’s counsel after a fiery back-and-forth debating whether former national security adviser John Bolton should be subpoenaed to testify before the Senate.
“Those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts told them. He reminded them to “use language conducive to civil discourse.”
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Witnesses still a possibility
After the House managers and the president’s defense team present their cases, the resolution gives senators 16 hours to ask questions. At that point, they can vote to issue subpoenas for new witnesses or documents them deem necessary.
Some Republicans opposing the amendments from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., which called for subpoenas now, said that step should have been taken by the House during the impeachment inquiry. Others, like Collins, said they should vote on the subpoenas later because that was how it was done in the Clinton trial.
Democrats argued it made more sense to hear from witnesses and to see new evidence before the case was presented. And they defended the House procedure, citing the White House’s refusal to comply with previous congressional subpoenas.
McConnell said he would table any amendments “brought forward to force premature decisions on mid-trial questions” to “protect our bipartisan precedent” set in the Clinton trial.
The 11 tabled amendments
The 11 amendments proposed by Schumer and the Democrats were tabled. Here is a rundown of what each one proposed:
First amendment: Subpoena all White House records related to the articles of impeachment alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, including National Security Council records, conversations about Ukraine and the delay in military assistance to Ukraine.
Second amendment: Subpoena all State Department documents from Jan. 1, 2019, until the present, including Trump’s communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy, top State Department officials’ communications with Ukrainian officials about potential investigations and communications regarding U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s removal from her post.
Third amendment: Subpoena for documents from the Office of Management and Budget related to the withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine.
Fourth amendment: Subpoena for testimony from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
Fifth amendment: Subpoena for all relevant Defense Department documents.
Sixth amendment: Subpoenas for testimony from Robert Blair, an assistant to the president and adviser to White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget.
Seventh amendment: A requirement that any new documents admitted in the Senate trial that had previously been subpoenaed by the House be made available to members of both parties, which Democrats said would prevent the “selective” admission of evidence from the president.
Eighth amendment: Subpoena for testimony from Bolton.
Ninth amendment: A guarantee that any motion to subpoena additional witnesses or documents would get a vote. The rules as written, Democrats argued, did not allow for votes to be taken on documents and witnesses – only for a vote on a procedural motion to allow for later votes on documents and witnesses.
10th amendment: Allow 24 hours for both sides to respond to any motions that might be filed Wednesday. The resolution that passed provides two hours.
11th amendment: A requirement that Roberts rule on motions to subpoena witnesses and documents.
Collins votes with Democrats on one amendment
Every amendment put forward by Schumer was rejected along the same 47-53, party-line vote – except one.
Collins voted with Democrats on the 10th amendment proposed by Schumer, which would have allowed more time for both sides to respond to trial motions.
The lack of defections was a victory of McConnell who could not lose more than three senators to block the Democratic amendments.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., became the first female house manager to offer an argument on the Senate floor as part of a president’s trial.
And shortly after that, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., became the first African American to serve as an impeachment trial manager when she spoke in favor of the amendment to subpoena all relevant State Department documents.
Sen. Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the first senator who appeared to doze off during the lengthy debate.
The Idaho Republican was slouched back in his chair on the Senate floor, cradled his head in hand and shut his eyes as Demings delivered her argument.
As the night wore on, the hours of debate appeared to take a toll on more senators. Several appeared to doze off, including McConnell who closed his eyes several times as House managers argued that officials and documents should be subpoenaed. As his body started to lean forward, falling deeper into sleep, he caught himself and jolted back.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., also nodded off multiple times as the night wore on. At one point, she dozed off, startled, and then immediately started writing something in her notes. Afterward, she shook her head lightly and stood up, leaving the chamber for a few minutes.
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