Democrats and the media were blowing their gaskets on Monday night after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky released his rules for the conduct of the impeachment trial less than 24 hours before it was set to begin.
Their outrage was centered around the trial schedule which only gives both sides 24 hours over two days to make their cases, meaning their presentations may drift into the wee hours of the morning, outside of prime time.
President Donald Trump could be acquitted by January if McConnell plays hardball with Democrats and the trial schedule outline indicates he is ready to pummel their squad.
“Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,” New York Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday night. “It’s a cover-up.”
Schumer’s criticisms fell on deaf ears, considering that the House withheld their articles of impeachment for more than three weeks in an effort to bully Republicans in the Senate into agreeing to conduct Trump’s trial according to their rules.
House Democrats then walked the two articles of impeachment across the Capitol in a ridiculous, staged procession over to the Senate, delaying the start of the trial at every turn.
They showed no sense of urgency and no concern whatsoever for the due process rights of the president, which they denied throughout the impeachment inquiry, blocking requests for co-equal subpoena power, witness testimony and counsel.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, told CNN Tuesday, “If Mitch McConnell and the Republicans just steamroll this through, if they rig the process, it will clearly be a fraud on the Constitution of the United States. And we will have to make it very clear: There is no vindication in a fraudulent trial,” Van Hollen said. “The president may claim to be exonerated, but if they rig the process, if they don’t allow the truth to come out, I think the public will see right through that.”
Democrats, who were clearly hoping to create another media impeachment spectacle, were sorely disappointed. The Senate will control the cameras during the impeachment trial, limiting what viewers see, and reporters will be confined to roped-off areas. Reporters are even banned from covering deliberations over the trial rules.
Nobody will be allowed to subpoena witnesses or documents until after each side has made their case and senators get 16 hours to ask questions.
Senators will then have to decide first whether they want to consider new evidence at all. If a majority of senators wish to do so, the managers and prosecutors will be allowed to request specific witnesses or documents, each of which would then be subject to an additional vote.
The witnesses would then be interviewed behind closed doors and then the “Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify, pursuant to the impeachment rules,” which means that even if witnesses are called, they might never testify in public.
The most disturbing aspect of the McConnell proposal for Democrats was the House’s findings would not automatically be admitted into evidence.
It would be printed and shared with senators but would only be formally considered by the Senate as part of its official record if a majority of senators voted to do so, and only after the vote to decide whether to call witnesses and seek additional documents in the third phase of the trial.
By not admitting the House impeachment inquiry’s findings into evidence at the outset, McConnell was subtly casting aspersions on their legitimacy.
Individual senators or the president’s lawyers could still make a motion during the trial to force a dismissal vote.
This warp-speed trial scheduling could allow it to wrap up in time for the president to deliver the State of the Union address on February 4th, and is expected to receive Senate approval along party lines.
Schumer said Tuesday Democrats would force votes on witnesses and changes to Senate rules at the beginning of the trial. “There is no guarantee that leader McConnell will allow these votes to take place later in the trial,” Schumer said. “So now, before any resolution passes, we must do it. We feel this is an obligation to the constitution to outline what a fair trial would be.”
The confrontation will test McConnell’s resoluteness to shut down the Democrats’ relentless efforts to run roughshod over the president’s due process rights and the Constitution.