McConnell Maps Late-Night, Evidence-Free Impeachment Trial

WASHINGTON (CN) — Under the resolution Senate Republicans expect to pass at the start President Trump’s historic impeachment trial on Tuesday, there might be no witnesses. There might be no new evidence or admission of any emails, reports, messages, transcripts or any other information compiled by the House of Representatives late last year. Proceedings could stretch well after midnight has fallen over the Capitol.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff argued Tuesday morning that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell showed his true intentions with a draft resolution issued late the previous night.

“This is not a process for a fair trial,” Schiff said at a Tuesday press conference. “This is a process for a rigged trial.”

A copy of a Senate draft resolution to be offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., regarding the procedures during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate is photographed in Washington on Monday. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

Couched in caveats and qualifications, the 4-page resolution McConnell offered Monday leaves any evidence-gathering whatsoever in doubt.

“Upon the conclusion of questioning by the Senate, there shall be 4 hours of argument by the parties, equally divided, followed by deliberation by the Senate, if so ordered under the impeachment rules, on the question of whether it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents,” it states.

As the resolution divides 24 hours of arguments across two Senate session days, proceedings could stretch until 1 a.m.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Trump’s legal team is afraid of what witnesses blocked by the White House will say at trial.

“To be debating whether you should have the evidence admitted, to be debating whether you should have witnesses, is to be debating whether you should have a cover up by definition,” Nadler told reporters.

McConnell has justified the trial rules for weeks as analogous to the 1999 Clinton impeachment. The House impeachment managers – Representatives Schiff, Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow, and Sylvia Garcia – echoed Pelosi in emphasizing that the resolution introduced by McConnell departs sharply from those rules.

“For weeks, Mitch McConnell has asserted that he planned to follow the ‘Clinton precedent’ for structuring President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial,” they said in a statement Tuesday. “It is now clear why he hid his proposed resolution all this time and released it the night before the trial is set to begin. 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.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday there is no debate that the documents and witnesses blocked by the White House relate directly to the charges against Trump.

“We don’t know what they are going to say,” Schumer said at a press conference. “This idea that these witnesses are democratic plants; they’re the president’s appointees and documents written by the president’s people. And maybe they’ll be exculpatory. Or maybe they’ll be further incriminating. But we will rest easy if we know that we have required the truth to come out.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rattled off a series of differences between Clinton’s impeachment trial and the form that Senate Republicans want for Trump.

“Leader McConnell’s plan for a dark of night impeachment trial confirms what the American people have seen since Day One: the Senate GOP Leader has chosen a cover-up for the president, rather than honor his oath to the Constitution,” the speaker said in a statement Tuesday morning. “Shamefully, this sham proposal does not even allow for admitting the House record into evidence at the trial.”

Whereas the Clinton resolution gave the parties six hours to submit motions for particular evidence, the Trump resolution allows only four hours to decide whether to consider or debate witness subpoenas in general.

%d bloggers like this: