Senate Republicans forced through a resolution establishing the rules for President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' MORE’s impeachment trial in the early morning hours Wednesday, rejecting Democrats' demands for additional witnesses and documents at the outset of the proceeding.
Senators voted 53-47 on the resolution capping off hours of debate, with Trump’s legal team and House managers engaging in a heated, public back and forth while senators themselves debated the measure during closed-door caucus meetings.
The final vote on passage of the rules came after Democrats tried and failed to get language added to the resolution that would have included a deal at the beginning of the trial on witnesses and documents related to the delayed Ukraine aid.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' Romney pledges 'open mind' ahead of impeachment trial McConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) was able to hold together his caucus to table the 11 amendments offered by Democrats, effectively blocking their requests from being folded into the rules resolution.
“All of these amendments under the resolution could be dealt with at the appropriate time,” he said at multiple points of the chamber’s debate.
McConnell warned ahead of the debate that he had the votes to force through the rules, underlying the pre-baked nature of the resolution on the trial process.
"The organizing resolution already has the support of the majority of the Senate. That's because it sets up a structure that is fair, evenhanded and tracks closely with past precedent that were established unanimously," McConnell said.
The day did have some surprises including last-minute tweaks to the rules resolution after a group of senators, including GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial GOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiJuan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight Murkowski wants senators to 'really hear the case' before deciding on impeachment witnesses MORE (Alaska) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Bipartisan group of senators introduces legislation to boost state cybersecurity leadership Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico MORE (Ohio), raised concerns about the effort to compress the timeline for the trial.
The two changes marked a small victory for Democrats, and underscored McConnell’s narrow margin for enacting the rules. The first change gives House managers and Trump’s legal team three days, as opposed to the initial two days, to make their opening arguments and the House evidence will automatically be included in the trial record.
“God help us if we have to listen to Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWhite House appoints GOP House members to advise Trump's impeachment team Trump knocks authors of 'A Very Stable Genius': 'Two stone cold losers from Amazon WP' Democrats push back on White House impeachment claims, saying Trump believes he is above the law MORE and the House Democrats prattle on for 24 hours nonstop, but you know what I think Senate Republicans did something wise and right and say OK we’ll make a concession. So now instead of over two days it’s over three days,” Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzJuan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Cruz: Hearing from witnesses could extend Senate trial to up to 8 weeks MORE (R-Texas) told reporters.
Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunSenators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it McConnell to GOP on impeachment rules: I have the votes GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles MORE (R-Ind.) told reporters that Republicans “tweaked in a way that made sense and I think most of our conference would feel the same way.”
Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters on Tuesday evening that the White House was supportive of the rules resolution and the changes made by Senate Republicans.
But Democrats still forced several votes attempting to insert a deal on calling various witnesses and compelling the White House to turn over documents tied to the delayed Ukraine aid, despite McConnell declaring ahead of the debate that he had the votes to pass the rules resolution.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump administration installs plaque marking finish of 100 miles of border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (D-N.Y.) defended the string of amendment votes, arguing that they weren’t “dilatory” but focused on seeking “the truth” about the administration’s decision to delay the funding, which was eventually released in September.
“That means relevant documents. That means relevant witnesses. That’s the only way to get a fair trial. And everyone in this body knows it. Each Senate impeachment trial in our history, all 15 that were brought to completion feature witnesses. Every single one,” Schumer said on Tuesday.
Democrats forced a handful of votes related to Ukraine-related documents and communications: The first set on communications from the White House, the second on the State Department, the third on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the fourth on Pentagon documents.
They also forced votes on calling former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonDemocrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' Romney pledges 'open mind' ahead of impeachment trial McConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial MORE, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyDemocrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' McConnell proposes compressed schedule for impeachment trial Biden campaign warns media about spreading 'malicious and conclusively debunked' claims during impeachment trial MORE, Mulvaney’s advisor Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, an OMB official. Like the motion for documents, each of the requests for a deal upfront on witnesses was tabled in a 53-47 vote.
The pledge for amendment votes had senators preparing for a long first day of the trial. Several senators were spotted at different points during the hours-long debate leaning back in their chairs; some stood during roll call votes well ahead of their names being called in an apparent attempt to stretch their legs. Others paced the back of the chamber during arguments.
The pledge for amendment votes had senators preparing for a long first day of the trial. Several senators were spotted at different points during the hours-long debate leaning back in their chairs and some stood during roll call votes well ahead of their names being called in apparent attempt to stretch their legs.
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) at one point appeared to be asleep, and was captured by a New York Times sketch artist. At other moments the Foreign Relations Committee chairman was holding up and tapping his watch as he looked to the front of the chamber at Schiff.
Senators are required to sit in their seats silently during the impeachment trial, though Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) were spotted chatting, as well as Sens. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseOn The Money: Senate panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes | Trade deficit falls to three-year low | Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief Senate panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes Congress to clash over Trump's war powers MORE (R-Neb.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes Trump to sign order penalizing colleges over perceived anti-Semitism on campus: report Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump MORE (R-S.C.), who were pointing at a colleague.
There were also moments of bipartisanship, with Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Biden calls for revoking key online legal protection GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff MORE (R-Mo.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Apple, Barr clash over Pensacola shooter's phone | Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives | DHS orders agencies to fix Microsoft vulnerability | Chrome to phase out tracking cookies Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Sen. Warner calls on State Department to take measures to protect against cyberattacks MORE (D-Va.) spotted together in the back of the chamber. Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney pledges 'open mind' ahead of impeachment trial Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight MORE (R-Utah) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE (D-Conn.) were also seen chatting during one of the breaks.
Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff MORE (R-N.D.) characterized the Senate as being in “unchartered territory” heading into the first day of the trial, adding that he had stocked up on coffee in preparation for the lengthy debate.
“I think we’re more likely to wear each other out than we are to learn anything new,” he said.
Though the outcome of the rules fight was largely pre-baked, the back-and-forth still lasted nearly 12 hours, with House managers and Trump’s legal team making arguments for and against each amendment. Under the impeachment rules, every proposed change gets up to two hours of debate evenly divided by both sides.
McConnell, more than eight hours into the debate over the rules, tried to get Schumer to agree to stack the votes—a move that would have set them up back-to-back instead of having House managers and Trump’s team debate each amendment for up two hours.
But Schumer rejected that move, instead making a counter offer to have some of the votes on the rules resolution on Wednesday. That would go against McConnell’s pledge to finish the debate on Tuesday and pave the way for opening arguments to start on Wednesday afternoon.
At one point on Tuesday night the two leaders hit pause on the trial to see if they could find a deal, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Instead, McConnell restarted the trial and Democrats rolled on with their amendment votes.
“Senator McConnell did not agree to that,” a spokesman for Schumer said after the brief negotiation. “What this means: for the time being, arguments and votes on Sen. Schumer’s amendments will continue.”
One of the most heated moments of the trial came later in the night when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMcConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial Pelosi: Trump's impeachment 'cannot be erased' House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate MORE (D-N.Y.), one of the impeachment managers, clashed with Trump lawyers over an amendment seeking to subpoena Bolton.
The testy exchange drew an admonishment from Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial.
"I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are," Roberts said.
McConnell, who appeared relieved by Roberts's efforts to diffuse the tensions, thanked the chief justice.
Later, as the GOP leader moved the Senate to a vote on the rules resolution shortly before 2 a.m., he thanked Roberts again for his "patience."
"Comes with the job," Roberts responded.