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Politics The Senate trial will shape both the president’s legacy but also that of his Republican Party

01:00  17 january  2020
01:00  17 january  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Chief Justice Roberts admonishes both sides at Senate impeachment trial, after marathon session erupts into shouting match

  Chief Justice Roberts admonishes both sides at Senate impeachment trial, after marathon session erupts into shouting match An ongoing, marathon first day in the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump erupted into a shouting match well after midnight early Wednesday morning, as Trump's legal team unloaded on Democratic impeachment manager Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. -- in an exchange that prompted a bleary-eyed Chief Justice John Roberts to sternly admonish both sides for misconduct in the chamber. Nadler began the historic spat by speaking in support of the eighth amendment of the day proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Thursday was a day of pomp and ceremony in the Senate at the opening of the impeachment trial of President Trump. But apart from all the scripted theater, the formalities marked a new and important test for the Republicans who control the upper chamber and therefore what kind of trial the country sees and what history remembers of those who sat in judgment.

The challenge for Republicans is not the question of the ultimate disposition of the case against Trump contained in the two articles of impeachment read into the record on the Senate floor at midday on Thursday. That appears to be a foregone conclusion, given the partisan makeup of the Senate.

Senate adopts ground rules for impeachment trial, delaying a decision on witnesses until after much of the proceedings

  Senate adopts ground rules for impeachment trial, delaying a decision on witnesses until after much of the proceedings The vote sets the stage for opening arguments by House impeachment managers and President Trump’s legal defense team beginning Wednesday at 1 p.m.That abrupt reversal from Senate leadership began a deeply acrimonious day in the chamber, which dramatically escalated in its final hours when the House managers and the president’s attorneys engaged in language considered so toxic for the staid Senate that Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, admonished both sides.

Instead it is the question of how they will address and digest evidence of the president’s actions with regard to Ukraine that has come out over the past four months. It is not just the president’s legacy that will be affected by the conduct of the proceedings over the next few weeks. It will also be the legacy of the Republican senators and their party.

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Will they follow the lead of their House colleagues, who in the face of damning testimony, embraced the president’s explanations, that his interactions with Ukraine were “perfect,” and that he was acting in the interests of the country rather than for personal political gain? Or will they judge him more independently, and critically, even if eventually stopping short of casting guilty votes?

Trump shows anxiety as arguments begin in Senate impeachment trial

  Trump shows anxiety as arguments begin in Senate impeachment trial WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Wednesday hardened his opposition to allowing former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in his Senate impeachment trial, citing national security but adding a note of apprehension: "I don't know if we left on the best of terms. "You don't like people testifying when they didn't leave on good terms," Trump said at a news conference before departing from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “And that was due to me, not him.

The House managers, who will begin to present their case Tuesday, will come with the evidence developed during weeks of testimony and debate that resulted in the party-line vote to impeach Trump at the end of December. That evidence includes testimony from a series of career Foreign Service and national security officials outlining the months-long effort to pressure Ukraine.

But that won’t be the only thing that senators sitting as jurors will have to take under consideration, as it is likely that additional evidence will emerge from outside the chamber that will weigh on their decision-making. Already, in the month since the House voted to impeach Trump, there have been a series of revelations and statements that pose new challenges for the president’s defense team and, importantly, for those in his party.

Hours before Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was sworn in as the presiding officer for the trial, and before he in turn swore in the members of the Senate, the Government Accountability Office issued a report stating that the White House had broken the law by withholding $391 million in military aid for Ukraine that had been authorized by Congress. A spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget took issue with that finding.

Two days into Trump trial, Republicans appear unmoved but offer Democrats some praise

  Two days into Trump trial, Republicans appear unmoved but offer Democrats some praise Two days into Trump trial, Republicans appear unmoved but offer Democrats some praiseWASHINGTON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - On the second day of House Democrats laying out their case in the U.S. Senate for removing President Donald Trump, there was little sign on Thursday that their arguments had changed any minds among Republican senators who control the chamber.

The GAO report followed the release of documents given by Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, to House investigators and television interviews Parnas gave on Wednesday. Those interviews and the documents further highlighted Giuliani’s role in Ukraine, including the efforts to force the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Parnas’s description of events also tied the president more directly to the activity. He is under indictment in federal court and his word must be viewed with skepticism, but what he has said and the documents he has offered further raise the stakes.

Shortly after the House’s impeachment vote, new emails from within the administration surfaced, including one from Michael Duffey, a senior official in the Office of Management and Budget, directing Pentagon officials to put a hold on the aid to Ukraine. The email was sent less than two hours after Trump had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he had requested “a favor”: an investigation into a discredited theory about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election as well as into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Even From Half a World Away, Pelosi Keeps a Tight Grip on Impeachment

  Even From Half a World Away, Pelosi Keeps a Tight Grip on Impeachment WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s motorcade was winding through Jerusalem on Wednesday, en route to a state dinner hosted by the president of Israel, when she placed perhaps the most important call of her day — to Representative Adam B. Schiff, the man leading the charge to remove President Trump from office. On the other end of the line, 5,900 miles away, Mr. Schiff, the top impeachment manager, was preparing to stride into the Senate chamber to begin arguing the House’s case, and the speaker wanted to compare notes before she slipped into a gathering of world leaders.Ms. Pelosi’s role in the impeachment of Mr.

There was also one other surprise during the interregnum between the House vote and this week’s formalities. That was the statement from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, who said that, if subpoenaed, he was prepared to testify at the Senate trial. As one of a handful of White House officials with direct knowledge of the events under scrutiny, Bolton was offering something that has made Republican senators squirm.

Adam Schiff, Zoe Lofgren, Sylvia Garcia, Jerrold Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries are posing for a picture: Representatives Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), left, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) are joined by fellow House managers as they walk into the Senate chambers to formerly read the articles of impeachment against President Trump. at the Capitol on Thursday.© Matt McClain/The Washington Post Representatives Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), left, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) are joined by fellow House managers as they walk into the Senate chambers to formerly read the articles of impeachment against President Trump. at the Capitol on Thursday.

It will take 51 votes for any witnesses to be allowed into the Senate trial, which means support from at least four Republicans. When it happens, it will trigger another partisan battle over who should be called, particularly what witnesses the president’s defenders might demand — such as Biden or his son. That fight will not come for some days, not until after the House managers and the president’s defense team present their cases.

Members of the Senate took an oath to render impartial justice, but in the hyperpartisan climate that exists today, many lawmakers already have declared their verdicts. Some Democrats, including some of the senators seeking the presidential nomination, have said they have seen enough to persuade them that Trump should be convicted and removed from office. On the other side are Republicans who have declared Trump not guilty and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said weeks ago he was working closely with the White House in preparation for the trial.

Democrats argue ‘right matters’ in Trump impeachment trial

  Democrats argue ‘right matters’ in Trump impeachment trial Democratic House prosecutors made an expansive case at Donald Trump's impeachment trial that he abused power like no other president in history, swept up by a “completely bogus” Ukraine theory pushed by attorney Rudy Giuliani. WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic House prosecutors made an expansive case at Donald Trump's impeachment trial that he abused power like no other president in history, swept up by a “completely bogus” Ukraine theory pushed by attorney Rudy Giuliani.

But if, as everyone expects, the verdict is a predictable acquittal on what is likely to be a vote that runs closely if not exclusively on party lines, the question of how seriously the evidence is weighed and examined is another. The president would have preferred a breezy dismissal, though that was never realistic. On Thursday, shortly after the senators had been sworn, he said he hopes for a quick trial, declaring the whole matter a “phony hoax.”

Many of Trump’s loyalists believe Democrats have been looking for any reason to bring down the president and treated the current impeachment process accordingly. What they did not do in the House was to effectively rebut the testimony of those career officials. Instead they challenged that evidence on the basis that it was not firsthand knowledge, even as the White House blocked those with such knowledge from testifying.

The Senate trial will give the president an opportunity for his team of lawyers to present a defense. Whether they accede to witnesses is another matter, particularly the White House officials who have not yet been heard from.

Being a Republican during the Trump presidency demands much. He is quick to anger at any Republican who strays from absolute loyalty and at times has sought to punish those who have. Few have had the wherewithal to question him and they have generally paid a price. Their examples have shaped the behavior of others in the party.

That’s a major difference between this impeachment proceeding and the one two decades ago involving then-president Bill Clinton. That Senate trial ended in an acquittal, largely on party lines. But the year-long episode also included condemnations of the president’s behavior by members of his own party, both what he did and that he lied about it.

If Clinton’s Democratic colleagues did not believe his conduct ultimately warranted removal from office, they nonetheless found it worthy of rebuke. That is one way to measure how those in the president’s party handle the allegations contained in the two articles of impeachment against Trump and ultimately the meaning of “impartial justice” as defined by each individual senator.

dan.balz@washpost.com

House to Deliver Evidence Record to Senate: Impeachment Update .
House managers will deliver a 28,578-page trial record to the Senate.Lead manager House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks during the third day of the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump in this still image from video in the U.S. Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 23.

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