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McConnell Loosens Rules as Impeachment Trial Starts

Each side will now get 3 days to make its case, instead of 2
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2020 11:45 AM CST
Updated Jan 21, 2020 7:07 PM CST

(Newser) – The impeachment trial of President Trump has begun. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts gaveled the historic proceedings into session shortly after 1pm. First up: Senate Republicans and Democrats are haggling over the rules before opening arguments begin. Developments:

  • McConnell eases up: Mitch McConnell has loosened up on his short timeline and restrictions on evidence, reports the Hill. Each side will still get 24 hours to present its case, but that will be spread over three days, instead of two. Also, evidence will now be automatically admitted unless there's a vote in opposition to it, per CNN. The changes came after Democrats said the original proposal amounted to a cover-up, because much of the proceedings would take place late at night. GOP Sen. Susan Collins pushed for the changes, too, reports Politico.
  • SOTU: The new timeline means the trial could overlap with Trump's State of the Union address on Feb. 4, notes the Hill. It could also, theoretically, be wrapped up by the end of the month, and sources say that's the timeline McConnell has in mind—he wants to finish up in about 10 days.
  • Little chance: Democrats are expected to push for more changes in the trial rules as the day goes on, but McConnell has the votes to push through his resolution without further revision, reports Politico. As of this posting, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had introduced four amendments to the rules and three have been voted down along party lines; senators broke for dinner before hearing debate on the fourth one. All of them have to do with subpoenaing documents (from the White House, State Department, Office of Budget and Management, and Mick Mulvaney). Schumer says he has a "series" of amendments to introduce. After he gets through those, the chamber will vote on McConnell's underlying resolution, so the number of amendments proposed will dictate how late the day goes.

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