Politics

Here's what to watch on the first full day of Trump's impeachment trial

Key Points
  • President Trump's impeachment trial is set to convene in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon, with Republicans and Democrats expected to clash over the rules and a possible motion to dismiss.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are set to speak on the Senate floor before senators convene for the trial at 1 p.m. ET.
  • McConnell on Monday released an outline of the trial rules that largely resemble former Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment trial — and Democrats have been quick to cry foul.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks with security as he arrives at the U.S. Capitol on January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump resumes on Tuesday.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is set to convene Tuesday afternoon in the Senate, with Republicans and Democrats expected to clash over the rules and a possible motion to dismiss.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are set to speak on the Senate floor before senators convene at 1 p.m. ET for the trial, over which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is presiding.

McConnell on Monday released an outline of the trial rules that largely resemble former President Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment trial. But the rules in Trump's trial depart from Clinton's in key sections — most notably in the time constraints placed on both sides to state their cases — and Democrats have been quick to cry foul.

McConnell is "hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through," Schumer said in a statement late Monday. "On something as important as impeachment, Senator McConnell's resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace."

Democratic leaders, including Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have pushed for assurances in the trial since Trump's Dec. 18 impeachment in the House on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, both related to his dealings with Ukraine. Pelosi refused to hand the articles over to the Senate for weeks, relenting only after committees in the House received a cache of additional information from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Parnas is facing campaign finance charges in federal court.

While Democrats have said they didn't want to stick to Clinton's precedent — for example, Schumer had unsuccessfully pressed McConnell to grant certain witnesses ahead of the trial — they nonetheless accused Republicans of attempting a "cover-up" with their rules for Trump.

McConnell, who has said he wants a speedy acquittal for Trump and has openly said his office was coordinating with the White House, put forward a resolution allowing just two days for House managers and Trump's defense team to debate, with 24 hours of total debate time allotted for each side.

As with Clinton's trial, McConnell's resolution allows senators to vote on witness testimony during the trial itself. But it also requires a specific vote in the majority-Republican chamber to consider evidence brought over from the House.

The White House might also try to dismiss the trial outright in a motion on the Senate floor. While only a simple 51-vote majority is required to pass that motion, a handful of the 53 Republicans in the chamber have suggested they would not vote to do so.

Still, it is highly unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will vote to convict and remove a Republican president. Trump is just the third U.S. president ever to be impeached, and no Senate Republicans have said they will vote to convict.

The president has denied wrongdoing.

Senate Democrats are expected to put forth a suite of amendments Tuesday in a bid to change the rules of the trial.

While the impeachment process has been bitterly partisan from the beginning, don't expect many fiery speeches from the 100 senators listening to the debate: They are required to remain silent "on pain of imprisonment."

Pelosi selected seven House Democrats to serve as impeachment managers in Trump's trial. The group, which includes Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Florida Rep. Val Demings, will lay out the evidence that House investigators have collected and make their arguments for voting Trump out of office.

Trump's defense team, meanwhile, has recently grown to include former Clinton impeachment investigator Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, who previously represented child sex predator Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson. A group of House Republicans has also been selected to act on the president's behalf as hype men in the media and provide guidance.

The group includes Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga., and Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

All of those members are Trump loyalists who have been loudly critical of the House's impeachment efforts. The chamber voted nearly along party lines to impeach Trump following investigation into his efforts to have Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announce probes involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.

Hours before the Senate proceedings, Trump on Tuesday pushed an "America First" message in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, just days after the U.S. signed a "phase one" trade deal with Beijing.

"Today I urge other nations to follow our example and liberate your citizens from the crushing weight of bureaucracy," Trump said. "With that, you have to run your own countries the way you want."

VIDEO4:2904:29
Trump tells world leaders at Davos to 'put their own citizens first'