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Trump’s Trial Resumes With Fight Over Rules

Democrats on Tuesday accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of trying to rig United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and demanded the president’s top lawyer be made a possible witness in the case.
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would offer amendments to fix what he called flaws in McConnell’s proposals.
Schumer blasted the speedy impeachment trial timeline laid out by his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell, calling it an “Alice in Wonderland-type proceeding.”
“(Democrats) will require every senator to vote on whether there should be certain witnesses, whether there should be certain documents and whether we should have the kind of unfair, stacked deck, Alice in Wonderland-type proceeding that McConnell has proposed,” Schumer told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Hours before the start of Trump’s trial in the Republican-controlled Senate on charges he abused power and obstructed Congress, Democrats said the rules proposed by McConnell would prevent witnesses from testifying and bar evidence gathered by investigators.
McConnell unveiled a plan on Monday that would execute a potentially quick trial without new testimony or evidence, and give House Democratic prosecutors and Trump lawyers 48 hours, evenly split, to present their arguments over four days.
In a letter on Monday, the seven House Democratic “managers” prosecuting the case demanded White House counsel Pat Cipollone disclose any first-hand knowledge he has of evidence he will present in the trial, calling him a material witness.
Cipollone was widely criticised for writing an Oct. 8 letter in which he said Trump could not permit the administration to participate in the House probe of the president’s pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a top Democratic contender to face Trump in the 2020 election, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Opening arguments began on Tuesday and may well run late each night. With a two-thirds majority needed in the 100-member Senate to remove Trump from office, he is almost certain to be acquitted by fellow Republicans in the chamber.
But the impact of the trial on his re-election bid is far from clear. Americans go to the polls in November.
Trump’s legal team has demanded that he is immediately acquitted by the Senate.
In a brief submitted on Monday, they called the impeachment “a dangerous perversion” of the constitution.
The 171-page brief submitted by Trump’s legal team is the first comprehensive defence of the president, ahead of the trial beginning in earnest.
It sets out to undercut the charges against Trump, branding them “frivolous and dangerous” and arguing that they don’t constitute either a crime or an impeachable offence.
“House Democrats settled on two flimsy Articles of Impeachment that allege no crime or violation of law whatsoever – much less ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanours’ as required by the Constitution,” it said.
“They do not remotely approach the constitutional threshold for removing a President from office.”
At the same time, an opposing brief from House managers – all Democrats – accused Trump of using his “presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit”.
“In doing so, he jeopardised our national security and our democratic self-governance,” it added. “He then used his presidential powers to orchestrate a cover-up unprecedented in the history of our republic.”
On the Senate’s impeachment rules released by McConnell, Representative Adam Schiff, in a news conference alongside other Democrats who will prosecute the case against Trump, said: “This is not the process for a fair trial. This is the process for a rigged trial.”
“I do think that by structuring the trial this way, it furthers our case that what’s going on here really is a cover-up of evidence to the American people,” he said.

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