House Democrats have wrapped up a day of arguments in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, appealing to skeptical Republican senators to join them in voting to oust Trump from office to “protect our democracy.”
Meanwhile, Trump's lawyers are sitting by, waiting their turn, and the president is blasting the proceedings, threatening jokingly to face off with the Democrats by coming to “sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces.”
The challenge before the House managers is clear: Democrats have 24 hours over three days to prosecute the charges against Trump, trying to win over not just fidgety senators but the American public.
But within a few hours of the rancorous dispute over rules that marked the first full day of the trial, senators are done with many of the quaint rules that are making them miserable. Many are pacing the chamber, walking out during arguments, napping and openly scoffing.
Bans on that behavior are designed to keep their attention on the grave and rare business of deciding whether to remove a president from office. But they're getting little sleep, and they've heard the story of Trump's pressure on Ukraine before.
The ban on cell phones on the Senate floor is one rule they haven't apparently flouted, though they often appear to be leaving the floor for a moment with their devices.
At one point, more than 10 senators' seats were empty.
Impeachment FAQ: A Guide To Key People, Facts And Documents
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's original rules proposal would have imposed a tight two-day schedule for opening arguments by each side. His original rules package drew immediate protests from Democrats, and some Republicans made their concerns known in private during a GOP lunch.
McConnell quickly added an extra day for opening arguments and agreed that evidence from the House impeachment proceedings will be included in the record. Left undecided was the matter of witnesses.
For now, Senate Republicans have blocked motions to immediately call witnesses and subpoena documents. Democrats failed to persuade Republicans to agree to issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses, though those matters can be revisited later.
President Donald Trump claims he wants top aides to testify in his Senate impeachment trial, but he qualified that by suggesting there were “national security” concerns about allowing their testimony. Trump spoke to reporters Wednesday at a global economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Read More: With The Rules Set, Senate Trial Opening Arguments Begin (via NPR.org)
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