The fireworks were aplenty! But as all the world looked on, the United States Senate gaveled in and began just the third impeachment trial in United States history. As House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) said after the House voted to impeach President Trump a month ago: “Donald Trump will be impeached…FOREVER!”
But will the Senate convict him in this trial and remove him from office? If so, Mr. Trump would be the first such United States President to be evicted from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
However, the fire of Impeachment was just lighted on Tuesday. We have a long way to go. As promised, we present for you a summary of the topics of import from Day One of the Senate impeachment trial in bullet point:
- Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and each Senator had already been sworn last week. The Senate was gaveled into session at about noon. The first order of business was to consider the rules with which the Impeachment trial would be governed. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented a resolution with proposed details of trial operations that the Republican majority had determined. The fireworks then began.
- The House Managers (“Prosecutors”) led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the President’s defense team each took exact amounts of time to debate each issue of the Trial Resolution. The most contentious element of the Impeachment Resolution was/is the calling of witnesses and the presentation of physical evidence.
- Leading House Manager Rep. Adam Schiff made the argument (which he restated throughout the Tuesday trial) that the President has continued to make statements that Article II of the Constitution gives a President authority to “do anything he wants to do.”
- The President’s attorneys argued that the House refused to take their issues regarding members of the Administration refusing to appear before Congress or to provide subpoenaed documents through the court system. The House Managers on the floor admitted that going to federal court would get in the way of impeaching the President before the election.
- The President’s attorneys argued that the House subpoenas for witness testimony from Administration members and documents were each invalid because none of them were issued with the consent of the House — only from various committees, which is a violation.
- Senate rejects Schumer amendment calling for a subpoena for White House witnesses and documents: On a party-line vote, 53-47, the Senate votes to put aside — or kill — Schumer’s amendment to subpoena witnesses and reports from the White House.
- Senator Schumer proposed a new amendment to subpoena documents from the State Department related to calls between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy. The Senate rejected the amendment proposed for the subpoena for State Department documents by a vote of 53-47.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) started the process by presenting Democrat proposed amendments to the resolution. The majority of Democrat amendments introduced on Tuesday dealt with the calling of specific witnesses from the Trump Administration. Some of those wishing to be called are:
- Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney: Mulvaney is said to have approved a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that was conditioned on investigations into Hunter Biden and Burisma, according to testimony from National Security Council member Fiona Hill. Democrats hope to question him about that meeting, and his role in the delay in releasing nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. The Senate rejected the amendment proposed for the appearance of Mr. Mulvaney by a vote of 53-47.
- Former National Security Advisor John Bolton: Bolton had a meeting with Trump about removing the hold on aid to Ukraine, according to testimony from former National Security Council official Tim Morrison. Bolton has hinted he has information about Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine that is not yet known to Congress. He refused to testify before the House without a court order, but Democrats hope he can shed light on how much high-level officials knew about the pressure campaign — and when they knew what. The Senate rejected the amendment proposed for Bolton’s appearance by a vote of 53-47.
- Associate Director for National Security, Office of Management and Budget Michael Duffey: Duffey, a political appointee at the Office of Management and Budget, sent emails to the White House about the hold the president wanted on aid to Ukraine, according to witness testimony from OMB official Mark Sandy during the House inquiry. Duffey also refused to testify before the House but may be able to clarify the timeline around the release of the aid. The Senate rejected the amendment proposed for the appearance of Asst. Director Duffey by a vote of 53-47.
- Mulvaney senior adviser Robert Blair: As an aide to Mulvaney, Blair was involved in communications between the Office of Management and Budget and the White House, and could provide testimony about the timing of releasing aid to Ukraine, according to Sandy’s sworn statements during the House inquiry. The Senate rejected the amendment proposed for Blair’s appearance by a vote of 53-47.
- Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) initiated a debate on an amendment to “prevent the selective admission of evidence and to provide for the appropriate handling of classified and confidential materials,” again failed along party lines, 53-47.
- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) proposed an amendment to accelerate witness votes. The Senate rejected the amendment proposed to accelerate witness votes by a vote of 52-48.
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) proposed an amendment for there to be an independent arbiter to determine which witnesses submitted by either side are a material witness to this trial and which should be allowed to provide testimony and which is not. Schiff’s proposal was for Chief Justice Roberts to be that independent arbiter. The Senate rejected the amendment proposed to rely on an arbiter to determine in any future witness testimony which witnesses would be material witnesses and therefore allowed to testify and which are not by a vote of 53-47. (Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) crossed party line to support this amendment.)
- The Final Vote of the Day was to approve on Party lines the Trial Rules presented by Majority Leader McConnell
On the first day of the Senate Impeachment Trial, eight proposed amendments to the Resolution entered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to set the orders of the operation of the trial. Each proposed amendment was “tabled” by votes down party lines: 53-47. “Tabled” is nothing more than a technical way for legislators to claim “innocent” when confronted with their vote on each of these issues. The “tabling” of an amendment is not a vote against an amendment, instead of saying, “We will not vote on this amendment at this time. It is highly unlikely such a vote on these amendments will ever happen, so the effect is the same.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has a tomorrow morning conflict that will require his present across the street from the U.S. Capitol at 10:00 AM tomorrow to hear oral arguments on a SCOTUS case. The impeachment trial will reconvene after noon.
We all knew this was not going to be a fast process, even though the House rushed their impeachment inquiry saying it was necessary for their investigation be completed quickly. But their actions Tuesday were surprising to me. Multiple times Rep. Adam Schiff stated, “the impeachment case and evidence provided by the House is ironclad proof that the President committed impeachable offenses. If that indeed is true, why did they spend thirteen hours in the Senate demanding that they are provided an unfettered ability to collect more evidence and interrogate more witnesses? Any reasonable person would have to conclude that their evidence is not “ironclad,” as Mr. Schiff continually maintained.
Also, over and over again in the Tuesday trial reminded the Senators in the Chamber how easy and quick it would be for all those witnesses they requested to be subpoenaed for their testimony to appear and testify NOW. Why did they NOT issue subpoenas and pursue any of those not responded to those subpoenas before they moved to an impeachment trial?
The answer to that question is that they “didn’t want to take up all the time they have before the 2020 election,” so they did not pursue their legal remedies to obtain that testimony but relied on the Senate during the impeachment trial to do so.
The Senate adjourned 1:48 AM and will reconvene at 1:00 PM Eastern on Wednesday. Chief Justice Roberts has commitments to the oral arguments at the Supreme Court Wednesday morning beginning at 10:00 AM Eastern.
In conclusion, the one thing that made the biggest impression on me — and that impression is very alarming — is that Rep. Adam Schiff is NOT an honest person. He’s not a reasonable person — at least in this setting. Mr. Schiff is NOT understanding, conducive to work hard for consensus or to negotiate. Worst of all for me is that as unreasonable as I have felt he is, especially in his anger for President Trump, I feel is a really evil person. I am not passing judgement on he or any other member of Congress. But Rep. Schiff demeaned again and again not just President Trump, but every Republican that voted for Mr. Trump. He made clear over and over that he “knows” that the President actually colluded with Russians in 2016 and that he is working with them for this upcoming election.
I cannot make this stuff up. It is the actual fabric of the cloth Americans have weaved and put in charge of our government. The blanket — our “cloth” — belongs to Mr. Trump and a small group of elites that he has hand-chosen.
Wednesday is Day Two of the Impeachment of President Trump. And we have it all for you here! Make sure you are here on Wednesday and every day this week. You’ll not be surprised and certainly not disappointed.
One final thought before you leave today: please click on the link below and listen to this 90-second notice: