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  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) faces reporters with fellow Senate Republicans following their weekly policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Jan. 7, 2020.

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) faces reporters with fellow Senate Republicans following their weekly policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Jan. 7, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 January 2020
Opinion

Under the Republican rules, no decision would be made on whether to call witnesses or seek further evidence until after opening arguments in the trial are presented.

United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he had enough support from his fellow Republicans to set the rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, with witnesses’ testimonies still unlikely to be included.

RELATED:
US President Trump Impeached By Democratic-led House of Reps

“We’ve got the votes necessary to start the trial using the Clinton model, which is good news,” Senator Lindsey Graham said, referring to an arrangement made during the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton after Republicans and Democrats were similarly deadlocked over the question of witness testimony.

Under the Republican’s rules, no decision would be made on whether to call witnesses or seek further evidence until after opening arguments in the trial are presented by members of the House of Representatives and the president's defense team.

Graham said at least 51 of the 53 Republicans in the Senate were backing that plan.

Democrats want at least three White House officials and Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton to testify at the trial, who was fired by Trump in September, and said on Monday he was willing to testify.

While Republicans have instead sought a fast trial based on evidence collected in the House of Representatives.

On Dec. 18, Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives formally charging him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress,  making him the third head of state to be impeached in the country’s history.

However, this in itself does not remove the president immediately from office; as it is similar to an indictment thus it is essentially the statement of charges against the chief executive.

The impeachment now sets the stage for a trial in the Senate, controlled by Republicans,  on whether to convict or acquit him. The trial is expected to begin in January in the Senate, where a vote of two-thirds is necessary for conviction.

No president has ever been removed from office via the impeachment process set out in the Constitution, and Republican senators have given little indication of changing that.

McConnell has previously said there is “no chance” the Senate will convict and remove Trump and that he would work in “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s defense team.

Trump: Third Head of State to Be Impeached in U.S. History

The impeachment proceedings began on Sept. 24 as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal inquiry, resulting from a whistleblower’s allegations that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden.

The whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community ledged a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, resulting in the Ukraine scandal. 

The July 25 call, which was later released by the White House, confirmed that the U.S. president asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rival in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer, which in turn occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released.

Federal election law prohibits candidates from accepting foreign help in an election.

 
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