By Ariel Steinsaltz
Donald Trump’s historic Dec. 18 impeachment has moved to the Senate chambers. The official trial, which began on Jan. 21, began with a fierce debate over the rules that would govern the trial, according to the Washington Post.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell first resolved to grant an extra day for both sides to present their cases; instead of two 12-hour days, both Democrats and Republicans were granted three days over which they can spread out their allotted 24 hours, according to the New York Times.
House Managers also presented several amendments for subpoenas for the State Department, White House documents and Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, all of which were voted down along party lines, according to the New York Times.
The debate between House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold L. Nadler and White House counsel Pat Cipollone was at times so heated that Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, called them both out on their discourse, according to the Washington Post.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is serving as the lead prosecutor, closed the case by stating that Trump was guilty, according to the New York Times.
“Does anybody really question whether the president is capable of what he’s charged with?” he said. “No one is really making the argument Donald Trump would never do such a thing, because of course we know that he would, and of course we know that he did.”
Four Republican senators would have to side with the Democrats in order to get witnesses, and it was towards them that Schiff targeted his bald summation of the case, with Mitt Romney and Susan Collins among those considered potential swing votes, according to NBC News. In a statement posted on her website at the start of the trial, Collins wrote, “It is likely that I would support a motion to subpoena witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999.”
On Jan. 25., the president’s legal team — which includes White House Counsel Pat Cipollone; Alan Dershowitz, who is known for defending Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson; and Ken Star, who investigated President Bill Clinton in relation to the Monica Lewinsky scandal — spent only two of their allotted 24 hours to present their opening argument, according to the New York Times.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone claimed the Democrats were “asking you to tear up all of the ballots all across the country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people,” saying later that “we can’t allow that to happen,” according to the New York Times.
According to NBC News, Cipollone also defended Trump’s decision to involve Ukraine in an investigation of Joe Biden, by claiming that he had lost trust in U.S. intelligence agencies following the Mueller investigation.