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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 54)

Trump Impeachment: A Quill-and-Ink Process Enters the Digital Age

Westlake Legal Group 21impeachment-tv1-facebookJumbo Trump Impeachment: A Quill-and-Ink Process Enters the Digital Age Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Television News and News Media McConnell, Mitch impeachment Dershowitz, Alan M

Viewed from one angle, the first day of the Senate trial of President Donald J. Trump was a plain affair. Or I should say, viewed from two angles — the two provided by the official congressional cameras, one trained tight on the speakers’ stand, one providing a static wide shot.

This was by design: The Senate refused a request for independent press cameras that would be free to capture observing, note-taking or snoozing legislators. Anyone dreaming of GIF-able senatorial reaction shots, à la the nominees at the Academy Awards, would be disappointed.

No one has ever accused Mitch McConnell of excessive visual flair, and the legal drama that he is now executive producing isn’t likely to change that.

Still, the Senate trial of a sitting president, accused of pressuring a foreign country to smear his political opponent, is a stunning TV sight, however basic the camerawork. And there was something striking about the still ritual, in a heated media age, of a hundred senators arrayed in front of the chief justice of the United States, being called by name and answering yes or no to vote after procedural vote.

Day 1 of the trial was, in a way, like time travel. Maybe not all the way back to the quill-and-ink origins of the Constitution, but at least to 1999, when the Senate last tried a chief executive, with similarly constrained visuals. As if to complete the retro experience, lawmakers were required to surrender their smartphones before entering (though several Apple Watches made it past the ban).

It was the most low-tech ritual of governance: just advocates and jurors in a room, speaking and listening. Or at least it was if you assume that the “impeachment trial” is limited to what is being said, done and voted on upon the Senate floor.

But really, the trial is a political process as much as a legal one, aimed not just at a hundred senators but their millions of constituents, both base and swing voters. It takes place not just in that chamber but in TV news studios and social-media feeds. And it began well before Tuesday.

Certainly that seemed to be the thinking of President Trump, the inveterate TV-watcher who reportedly cast members of his defense team because he thought they were good on camera.

One of his handpicked congressional advocates, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio — your ears may still be ringing from his defense of the President in the Housemade the rounds on Fox News Tuesday. (In the Senate chamber, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow also seemed aware of the high decibel level that his ever-watching client prefers.)

Meanwhile, Alan Dershowitz of O.J. Simpson defense fame, whose months of cable-jabber Trump defenses were like an informal audition for the White House legal team, put in an early-hours media blitz. On CNN Monday, he defended to Anderson Cooper his flip-flop since he argued, during the Bill Clinton impeachment case, that an actual crime is not required to impeach a president. “I wasn’t wrong,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “I’m just far more correct now.”

It was no “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” but it was a start.

The Democratic House impeachment managers likewise tried to expand the field of argument, in part by interlacing their speeches with video clips of witnesses from the House hearings in the fall. Besides breaking up the visual monotony during a marathon telecast, these served as a sort of “Previously on …” recap for the home and Senate audiences.

But also, while they laid out an argument for calling new witnesses like the former national security adviser John Bolton, the Democrats used video as a way to summon virtual testimony.

They called President Trump and his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, in news-file clips. (“Let’s go to the videotape,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York said.) They even introduced Lev Parnas, the businessman who worked with the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani on his Ukraine pressure campaign, via his interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The next best thing to a subpoena is a TV remote.

Even though Tuesday’s arguments were mostly procedural, the biggest change — Mr. McConnell’s concession against cramming arguments into two 12-hour days — was essentially a TV-scheduling decision. It meant that viewers would not be fed the trial as a massive binge, and that controversial votes would more likely be taken while viewers are still awake.

In the news studios, analysts read the shift as a sign that the Senate might just call new witnesses after all, which created a buzz of excitement in the coverage.

What was mostly missing, so far, was a sense of awe and history, that the legislative branch was even considering the removal, however politically unlikely, of the president of the United States for abusing his office to sway an election.

Maybe that feeling will strike with the beginning of the actual trial arguments — assuming all the networks stick around. By late afternoon Tuesday, CBS had moved on to other pressing legal matters: A woman was battling her ex-husband for repayment of a loan on “Judge Judy.”

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Republicans Block Subpoenas for New Evidence as Impeachment Trial Begins

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167515650_3288b414-7e82-43a4-82e5-792618f110cb-facebookJumbo Republicans Block Subpoenas for New Evidence as Impeachment Trial Begins United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party Collins, Susan M

WASHINGTON — A divided Senate began the impeachment trial of President Trump on Tuesday in utter acrimony, as Republicans blocked Democrats’ efforts to subpoena documents related to the pressure campaign on Ukraine and moderate Republicans forced last-minute changes to rules that had been tailored to the president’s wishes.

In a series of party-line votes punctuated by hours of contentious debate by the House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team, Senate Republicans turned back repeated attempts by Democrats to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon that could shed light on the core charges against Mr. Trump. More votes were to come throughout the evening on Democratic efforts to subpoena current and former White House officials, although the outcome was expected to be the same.

The debate, which stretched into the night in a Senate chamber transformed for the occasion, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. presiding from the marble rostrum and senators sworn to silence looking on from their desks, was the substantive start of the third presidential impeachment trial in American history.

On its face, Tuesday’s debate was a technical one about the rules and procedures to govern the trial. But it set the stage for a broader political fight over Mr. Trump’s likely acquittal that will persist long after the proceeding is over, and will help shape the contours of the 2020 campaign.

Democrats were laying the groundwork to argue that the trial was a cover-up rigged on Mr. Trump’s behalf and to denounce Republicans — including the most vulnerable senators seeking re-election in politically competitive states — for acquiescing. Republicans, for their part, insisted that the Senate must move swiftly and decisively to remedy what they characterized as an illegitimate impeachment inquiry that amounted to a miscarriage of justice.

Standing in the well of the Senate, the Democratic House impeachment managers urged senators to reject proposed rules from the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that would delay a debate over witnesses and documents until the middle of the trial, with no guarantee that they would ever be called.

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents, the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead manager. He said Mr. McConnell’s proposal was tantamount to saying, “Let’s have the trial, and maybe we can just sweep this all under the rug.”

If adopted, the resolution would pave the way for the trial to move forward on Wednesday afternoon with oral arguments from the House managers presenting their case for removing Mr. Trump.

At the heart of the trial are charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against the president approved last month by the Democratic-led House. They assert that Mr. Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals while withholding as leverage nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting for its president. The president then sought to conceal his actions from Congress, the charges say, by blocking witness testimony and documents.

Mr. Trump’s legal team argues that the charges are baseless and amount to criminalizing a president’s prerogative to make foreign policy decisions as he sees fit and then shield from Congress documents relating to his duties. They also claim — in a break with most constitutional scholars — that because the articles of impeachment do not outline a specific violation of a law, the impeachment was invalid.

But on Tuesday, the debate focused on whether his trial would be fair or not.

“This initial step will offer an early signal to our country: Can the Senate still serve our founding purpose?” Mr. McConnell said before it got underway.

Yet Mr. McConnell, too, received a sharp reminder on Tuesday about the limits of his power to control an inherently unpredictable proceeding with few precedents. Under pressure from Republican moderates, he was forced to make some last-minute changes to the set of rules he unveiled on Monday, which would have squeezed opening arguments by both sides into two 12-hour marathon days and refused to admit the findings of the House impeachment inquiry into evidence without a separate vote later in the trial.

The compressed timetable was in line with a White House request to quickly dispense with opening arguments so that Mr. Trump’s team could more speedily take to the floor before the weekend and begin presenting a defense of his actions. And Mr. McConnell’s proposal hewed to the broader argument made by the president and his legal team that the House inquiry was so fatally flawed that it lacked any legitimacy.

But Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, among others, objected privately to those provisions, which they believed departed too much from procedures adopted unanimously by the Senate for the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton. At a closed-door luncheon with Republican senators in the Capitol just before the trial was to begin, the senators raised their objections, according to aides familiar with the conversation, and Mr. McConnell rushed to submit a revised copy of the resolution — with lines crossed out and changes scrawled in pen in the margins — when it was time for the debate.

When his resolution was read aloud on the Senate floor, two days had been extended to three and the House’s records would be automatically admitted into evidence, although Mr. McConnell inserted a new provision that would allow Mr. Trump’s team to move to throw out parts of the House case.

The last-minute reversal underscored the outsized influence of a small group of moderate Republicans in the narrowly divided Senate whose interests and demands could prove decisive to shaping the impeachment trial, beginning next week in a more formal debate over witnesses and documents.

Half a world away, Mr. Trump, in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, sought to use the global stage to project confidence about his standing at home. He swatted away questions from reporters about the impeachment trial, instead bragging about the strength of the American economy under his leadership.

But in the Senate chamber, his lawyers replayed for senators many of his most frequent and personal grievances, accusing Democrats in only slightly more lawyerly terms of conducting a political search-and-destroy mission that Mr. Trump’s rails about daily on Twitter.

“It’s long past time that we start this so we can put an end to this ridiculous charade and go have an election,” said Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel.

The historically rare debate was rendered even more unusual by Senate rules that prohibit senators from speaking on the chamber floor for the duration of the proceedings and instead empower the House managers and White House defense lawyers to debate the proposals. The effect was that on the trial’s first day, the Senate chamber split cleanly into partisan factions, with the managers siding with Senate Democrats and Mr. Trump’s lawyers taking the place of the Republicans.

Mr. Cipollone rose first, delivering a brief statement urging senators to support Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules, which he called “a fair way to proceed.”

“We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done nothing wrong,” Mr. Cipollone said, “and that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution.”

Democrats, who came armed with digital slides and video clips to drive home their arguments, spent hours detailing the factual record compiled by the House investigation and cataloging the witnesses and documents Mr. Trump had succeeded in withholding. Senators facing such a grave decision as removing a president, they argued, have a responsibility to try to push all the facts to light.

“With the backing of a subpoena authorized by the chief justice of the United States, you can end President Trump’s obstruction,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, the first woman in history to speak on the Senate floor as a House impeachment manager. “If the Senate fails to take this step, you won’t even ask for the evidence. This trial and your verdict will be questioned.”

Just an hour or so before the trial began, the seven House managers submitted one final written rebuttal to arguments put forward against their charges by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. In 34 pages, they rejected the lawyers’ assertion that abuse of power was not an impeachable offense and that Mr. Trump had acted legally when he ordered administration officials not to appear for questioning in the House or provide documents for the impeachment inquiry.

Locked in silence for much of the day, senators were able to talk only before the proceeding began or during brief breaks. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, denounced Mr. McConnell’s rules as deeply unfair and skewed toward Mr. Trump.

“It is completely partisan. It was kept secret until the eve of the trial,” he said. “The McConnell rules seem to have been designed by President Trump and for President Trump, simply executed by Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans.”

Inside the chamber, Mr. Schumer forced separate votes on demanding documents and planned more on compelling testimony from four current and former Trump administration officials who were blocked from speaking with the House: John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser; Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; Robert B. Blair, an adviser to Mr. Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, a White House budget official.

Each time, Mr. McConnell moved to kill the proposal before it could be considered, and was sustained by unified Republican support.

“This is the fair road map for our trial,” Mr. McConnell declared. “We need it in place before we can move forward. So the Senate should prepare to remain in session today until we complete this resolution and adopt it.”

Even after Tuesday’s changes, Mr. McConnell’s proposal makes way for potentially the fastest presidential impeachment trial in American history, particularly if the Senate declines to call witnesses.

Only two other American presidents have stood trial in the Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, and his trial took the better part of three months, featuring testimony from dozens of witnesses and extended periods for discovery, before he was ultimately acquitted by just a single vote. Mr. Clinton was tried in 1999 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. That proceeding lasted five weeks, included testimony from just three witnesses and resulted in an overwhelming acquittal.

Without witnesses, Mr. Trump’s trial could conclude by the end of January. If senators ultimately do call witnesses, that timeline could stretch weeks longer.

Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Impeachment Trial Live: Highlights and Takeaways

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-live-mcconnellsub-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Trial Live: Highlights and Takeaways United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Schiff, Adam B Republican Party Politics and Government McConnell, Mitch impeachment Democratic Party

A debate is under way in the Senate over the ground rules the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has proposed for President Trump’s trial.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Senate convened shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday to start in earnest the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, who faces charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress. Senators were warned that they had to remain quiet, a skill that they rarely exercise in the Senate chamber, or face imprisonment.

The first order of business was a debate over the format of the trial, a draft of which Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, released on Monday. Democrats spent the morning lashing out against Mr. McConnell’s plan, accusing him and other Republicans of trying to cover up Mr. Trump’s actions.

Unlike most other debates in the Senate, the elected senators did not do the actual debating. Instead, the seven House impeachment managers, who are serving as prosecutors in the case, and Mr. Trump’s legal defense team argued over the rules that will govern the proceedings.

The Senate voted 53 to 47 to table the first proposed amendment to Mr. McConnell’s rules proposal. The top Democrat in the chamber, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, had proposed an amendment to subpoena Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to provide documents and records related to the Trump administration’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

The administration refused last year to hand over the documents to the Democratic-led House during its impeachment inquiry. Democrats have argued that the documents are critical to the Senate for conducting a fair trial.

After the vote, the impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team began debating Mr. Schumer’s second proposed amendment to the rules, which called for the subpoena of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for State Department documents related to Ukraine, including communications about withholding military aid, a decision at the center of the two impeachment charges against the president.

Less than a day after releasing his rules proposal and drawing outrage from Democrats, Mr. McConnell submitted to the Senate a modified version with two significant changes. The most notable was a provision to automatically enter evidence collected during the House impeachment inquiry into the trial record. The earlier version of Mr. McConnell’s proposal would have put the decision of whether to admit the House evidence to a Senate vot

Mr. McConnell also gave the House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team an additional day to argue their cases under the proposed rules the Senate began considering Tuesday afternoon. The initial proposal gave each side up to 24 hours over two days — a time frame Democrats criticized because it could push key testimony into early morning hours, when most Americans would be sleeping.

Each side still gets a total of 24 hours to present, but spreading it across three days will give both legal teams more time to lay out their cases and end the days earlier.

Mr. McConnell made the changes after key Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, argued that the rules for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial should not deviate significantly from the rules used during the only modern precedent, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Ms. Collins, a moderate Republican who is likely to face a tough re-election bid later this year, has significant sway with Mr. McConnell, as her votes could change the outcome of the trial.

.

Even as Democrats lodged an unexpected victory Tuesday with the changes Mr. McConnell made to his proposed rules for the trial, they are still hoping to persuade some Republicans to join them in making other changes to the proceedings that Mr. McConnell opposes.

“The real test will be if they pressure Senator McConnell to allow witnesses and documents,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement during a brief break in the trial.

Mr. McConnell’s plan would have the Senate vote first on whether they want to consider new evidence at all, even as more details from key witnesses emerged in recent weeks and John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, said he would testify if subpoenaed. Mr. Bolton, for instance, has firsthand accounts of some of the White House’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to benefit Mr. Trump.

A majority of senators would have to agree to consider new evidence, and then they would vote on admitting specific witnesses or documents individually.

While the Senate trial commenced with hours of debate over the format of Mr. Trump’s trial, the president met with world leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he trumpeted the strong American economy, heaping praise upon himself.

But when Democrats called for the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, to turn over documents related to the Ukraine matter, the White House hit back with a sharp statement on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

“The Democrats are an utter joke — they have no case, and this latest political stunt proves it,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. “The idea that the counsel to the president has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the president of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd.”

Earlier on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump was asked a question about the impeachment trial, taking place thousands of miles away, he said, “That whole thing is a hoax.”

Mr. Trump is expected to be back in Washington Wednesday evening.

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Barr Once Contradicted Trump’s Claim That Abuse of Power Is Not Impeachable

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167087664_56e46adf-c059-4a7a-9bc2-bc7067fec242-facebookJumbo Barr Once Contradicted Trump’s Claim That Abuse of Power Is Not Impeachable United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidents and Presidency (US) Mueller, Robert S III Law and Legislation Justice Department impeachment Ethics and Official Misconduct Dershowitz, Alan M Constitution (US) Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — Scholars have roundly rejected a central argument of President Trump’s lawyers that abuse of power is not by itself an impeachable offense. But it turns out that another important legal figure has contradicted that idea: Mr. Trump’s attorney general and close ally, William P. Barr.

In summer 2018, when he was still in private practice, Mr. Barr wrote a confidential memo for the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s legal team to help the president get out of a problem. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was pressuring him to answer questions about whether he had illegally impeded the Russia investigation.

Mr. Trump should not talk to investigators about his actions as president, even under a subpoena, Mr. Barr wrote in his 19-page memo, which became public during his confirmation. Mr. Barr based his advice on a sweeping theory of executive power under which obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents, even if they misuse their authority over the Justice Department to block investigations into themselves or their associates for corrupt reasons.

But Mr. Barr tempered his theory with a reassurance. Even without the possibility of criminal penalties, he wrote, a check is in place on presidents who abuse their discretionary powers — impeachment.

The fact that the president “is ultimately subject to the judgment of Congress through the impeachment process means that the president is not the judge in his own cause,” he wrote.

He added, “The remedy of impeachment demonstrates that the president remains accountable under law for his misdeeds in office,” quoting from a 1982 Supreme Court case.

Mr. Barr has long embraced a maximalist philosophy of executive power. But in espousing the view that abuse of power can be an impeachable offense, he put himself squarely in the mainstream of legal thinking. Most constitutional scholars broadly agree that the constitutional term “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which an official may be impeached includes abuse of power.

But in a 110-page brief on Monday, Mr. Trump’s impeachment team — led by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel and a former aide to Mr. Barr in the first Bush administration, and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow — portrayed the article of impeachment claiming that Mr. Trump abused his power in the Ukraine affair as unconstitutional because he was not accused of an ordinary crime.

“House Democrats’ novel conception of ‘abuse of power’ as a supposedly impeachable offense is constitutionally defective,” they wrote. “It supplants the framers’ standard of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ with a made-up theory that the president can be impeached and removed from office under an amorphous and undefined standard of ‘abuse of power.’”

Contrary to what Mr. Barr wrote 20 months ago, the Trump defense team also insisted that the framers did not want Congress to judge whether presidents abused their discretion and made decisions based on improper motives.

“House Democrats’ conception of ‘abuse of power’ is especially dangerous because it rests on the even more radical claim that a president can be impeached and removed from office solely for doing something he is allowed to do, if he did it for the ‘wrong’ subjective reasons,” the Trump team wrote.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Barr declined to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Trump’s impeachment defense team did not respond to a request for comment about the tensions.

But Mr. Barr’s view was no passing thought. His 2018 memo emphasized that presidents who misuse their authority by acting with an improper motive are politically accountable, not just in elections but also via impeachment.

Between elections, “the people’s representatives stand watch and have the tools to oversee, discipline, and, if they deem appropriate, remove the president from office,” he wrote. “Under the framers’ plan, the determination whether the president is making decisions based on ‘improper’ motives or whether he is ‘faithfully’ discharging his responsibilities is left to the people, through the election process, and the Congress, through the impeachment process.”

The result of Mr. Barr’s main argument in 2018 and the Trump team’s theory in 2020 is identical: Both posited that facts were immaterial, both in a way that was convenient to counter the threat Mr. Trump faced at that moment.

If Mr. Barr’s obstruction of justice theory is correct — and many legal scholars reject it — then Mr. Mueller had no basis to scrutinize Mr. Trump’s actions that interfered with the Russia investigation.

Similarly, if the Trump impeachment team’s theory is correct, the Senate has no basis to subpoena documents or call witnesses. The lawyers are implying that even if Mr. Trump did abuse his power to conduct foreign policy by trying to coerce Ukraine into announcing investigations that could help him in the 2020 election, the Senate should acquit Mr. Trump anyway.

Another member of Mr. Trump’s legal team, Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and criminal defense lawyer, is expected to make a presentation to the Senate trial this week laying out in detail the theory that abuses of power are not impeachable without an ordinary criminal violation.

Critics of Mr. Dershowitz’s arguments have pointed to the seeming tension with comments he made in 1998, when he did not have a client facing impeachment for abuse of power: “If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don’t need a technical crime.”

In an interview this week, Mr. Dershowitz argued that his position now was not inconsistent with what he said in 1998, pointing to his use then of the phrase “technical crime” and saying that he is arguing today that impeachment requires “crimelike” conduct.

Mr. Dershowitz went further on Tuesday, saying on Twitter that he had not thoroughly researched the question in 1998 but recently has done so. “To the extent therefore that my 1998 off-the-cuff interview statement suggested the opposite,” he wrote, “I retract it.”

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Partisan Rules Debate Rages as Senate Opens Trump Impeachment Trial

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167515650_3288b414-7e82-43a4-82e5-792618f110cb-facebookJumbo Partisan Rules Debate Rages as Senate Opens Trump Impeachment Trial United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch impeachment House of Representatives Democratic Party Collins, Susan M

WASHINGTON — A divided Senate began the impeachment trial of President Trump on Tuesday in utter acrimony, as Republicans refused to commit to hearing from witnesses Democrats demanded and moderate Republicans forced last-minute changes to rules that had been tailored to the president’s wishes.

The debate, convened just after 1 p.m. in a Senate chamber transformed for the occasion, marked the substantive beginning of the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. It was the culmination of weeks of rhetorical sparring between the two parties over whether and when to call witnesses and new evidence that Mr. Trump blocked from House investigators.

Standing in the well of the Senate, the Democratic House impeachment managers pleaded with senators, who were sworn to silence, to reject proposed rules from the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that would delay a debate over witnesses and documents until the middle of the trial, with no guarantee that they would ever be called.

The question of calling new evidence, said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead manager, was an “even more important question than how you vote on guilt or innocence.”

“If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents, the opening statements will be the end of the trial,” he said. “To say let’s just have the opening statements and then we’ll see means let’s have the trial, and maybe we can just sweep this all under the rug.”

Senate Democrats planned a series of amendments for later in the day to try to commit the chamber to subpoenaing four specific witnesses and tranches of documents. With Republicans in firm control of their 53-to-47 majority, each was expected to fail. But the issue of witnesses is expected to resurface later in the trial, after opening arguments and a question period, when the rules allow votes on whether and whom to subpoena.

At the heart of the trial are charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against the president approved last month nearly along party lines by the Democratic-led House. They assert that Mr. Trump used the power of his office to enlist a foreign power for help in the 2020 election by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals while withholding as leverage nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting for its president, and then stonewalled congressional attempts to investigate.

Mr. Trump’s legal team argues that the charges are baseless and amount to criminalizing a president’s prerogative to make foreign policy decisions as he sees fit and to shield from Congress documents relating to the conduct of his duties. They also claim — in a break with most constitutional scholars — that because the articles of impeachment do not outline a specific violation of a law, Mr. Trump cannot be impeached.

But on Tuesday, the debate focused on whether his trial would be fair or not.

“This initial step will offer an early signal to our country: Can the Senate still serve our founding purpose?” Mr. McConnell said.

But under pressure from Republican moderates, Mr. McConnell made some last-minute changes to the set of rules he unveiled on Monday, which would have squeezed opening arguments by both sides into two 12-hour marathon days and refused to admit the findings of the House impeachment inquiry into evidence without a separate vote later in the trial.

Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio, among others, objected to those proposals, which were a departure from procedures adopted unanimously by the Senate for the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton, on which Mr. McConnell had promised to model his rules. At a luncheon with Republican senators in the Capitol just before the trial was to begin, Ms. Collins and Mr. Portman raised their objections privately, according to aides familiar with the conversation, and Mr. McConnell submitted a revised copy of the resolution — with lines crossed out and changes scrawled in the margins — when it was time for the debate.

When his resolution was read aloud on the Senate floor, two days had been extended to three and the House’s records would be automatically admitted into evidence, although Mr. McConnell inserted a provision not included in the 1999 rules that would allow Mr. Trump’s team to move to throw out parts of the House case.

The historically rare debate was rendered even more unusual by Senate rules that prohibit senators from speaking on the chamber floor for the duration of the proceedings and empower the House managers and White House defense lawyers to argue aloud over the proposals instead. The effect was that on the trial’s first day, the Senate chamber split cleanly into partisan factions, with the managers siding with Senate Democrats and Mr. Trump’s lawyers taking the place of the Republicans.

Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, rose first and addressed the senators, urging them to support Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules, which he called “a fair way to proceed” and getting in a jab at House Democrats’ delay in transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

“We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done nothing wrong,” Mr. Cipollone said, “and that these articles of impeachment do not begin to approach the standard required by the Constitution.”

Locked in silence, senators were able to speak only before the proceeding began or during brief breaks. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, pledged to force votes later in the day on about a half-dozen amendments that would, if adopted, direct the Senate to subpoena documents and witnesses that evaded House investigators.

“It is completely partisan. It was kept secret until the eve of the trial,” he said. “The McConnell rules seem to have been designed by President Trump and for President Trump, simply executed by Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans.”

Specifically, he planned to force votes on records housed at the White House, State Department and Defense Department, and to compel testimony from four current and former Trump administration officials who were blocked from speaking with the House: John R. Bolton, the former White House national security adviser; Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; Robert B. Blair, an adviser to Mr. Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, a White House budget official.

Mr. McConnell promised to move to table each amendment so it could not be adopted, but the debate could take hours.

“This is the fair road map for our trial,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor not long after Mr. Schumer’s remarks. “We need it in place before we can move forward. So the Senate should prepare to remain in session today until we complete this resolution and adopt it.”

Even after Tuesday’s changes, Mr. McConnell’s proposal makes way for potentially the fastest presidential impeachment trial in American history, particularly if the Senate declines to call witnesses.

Only two other American presidents have stood trial in the Senate for high crimes and misdemeanors. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, and his trial took the better part of three months, featuring testimony from dozens of witnesses and extended periods for discovery, before he was ultimately acquitted by just a single vote. Mr. Clinton was tried in 1999 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. That proceeding lasted five weeks, included testimony from just three witnesses and resulted in an overwhelming acquittal.

Without witnesses, Mr. Trump’s trial could conclude by the end of January. If senators ultimately do call witnesses, that timeline could stretch weeks longer.

Just an hour or so before the trial began, the seven House managers submitted one final written rebuttal to arguments put forward against their charges by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. In 34 detailed pages, they rejected the lawyers’ assertion that abuse of power was not an impeachable offense and that Mr. Trump had acted legally when he ordered administration officials not to appear for questioning in the House or provide documents for the impeachment inquiry.

Catie Edmondson and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Impeachment Trial Live: Highlights and Takeaways

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-live-mcconnellsub-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Trial Live: Highlights and Takeaways United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Schiff, Adam B Republican Party Politics and Government McConnell, Mitch impeachment Democratic Party

A debate is under way in the Senate over the ground rules the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has proposed for President Trump’s trial.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Senate convened shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday to start in earnest the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, who faces charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress. Senators were warned that they had to remain quiet, a skill that they rarely exercise in the Senate chamber, or face imprisonment.

The first order of business was a debate over the format of the trial, a draft of which Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, released on Monday. Democrats spent the morning lashing out against Mr. McConnell’s plan, accusing him and other Republicans of trying to cover up Mr. Trump’s actions.

Unlike most other debates in the Senate, the elected senators did not do the actual debating. Instead, the seven House impeachment managers, who are serving as prosecutors in the case, and Mr. Trump’s legal defense team argued over the rules that will govern the proceedings.

The Senate voted 53 to 47 to table the first proposed amendment to Mr. McConnell’s rules proposal. The top Democrat in the chamber, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, had proposed an amendment to subpoena Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to provide documents and records related to the Trump administration’s pressure campaign on Ukraine.

The administration refused last year to hand over the documents to the Democratic-led House during its impeachment inquiry. Democrats have argued that the documents are critical to the Senate for conducting a fair trial.

After the vote, the impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team began debating Mr. Schumer’s second proposed amendment to the rules, which called for the subpoena of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for State Department documents related to Ukraine, including communications about withholding military aid, a decision at the center of the two impeachment charges against the president.

Less than a day after releasing his rules proposal and drawing outrage from Democrats, Mr. McConnell submitted to the Senate a modified version with two significant changes. The most notable was a provision to automatically enter evidence collected during the House impeachment inquiry into the trial record. The earlier version of Mr. McConnell’s proposal would have put the decision of whether to admit the House evidence to a Senate vot

Mr. McConnell also gave the House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team an additional day to argue their cases under the proposed rules the Senate began considering Tuesday afternoon. The initial proposal gave each side up to 24 hours over two days — a time frame Democrats criticized because it could push key testimony into early morning hours, when most Americans would be sleeping.

Each side still gets a total of 24 hours to present, but spreading it across three days will give both legal teams more time to lay out their cases and end the days earlier.

Mr. McConnell made the changes after key Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, argued that the rules for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial should not deviate significantly from the rules used during the only modern precedent, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Ms. Collins, a moderate Republican who is likely to face a tough re-election bid later this year, has significant sway with Mr. McConnell, as her votes could change the outcome of the trial.

.

Even as Democrats lodged an unexpected victory Tuesday with the changes Mr. McConnell made to his proposed rules for the trial, they are still hoping to persuade some Republicans to join them in making other changes to the proceedings that Mr. McConnell opposes.

“The real test will be if they pressure Senator McConnell to allow witnesses and documents,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement during a brief break in the trial.

Mr. McConnell’s plan would have the Senate vote first on whether they want to consider new evidence at all, even as more details from key witnesses emerged in recent weeks and John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, said he would testify if subpoenaed. Mr. Bolton, for instance, has firsthand accounts of some of the White House’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to benefit Mr. Trump.

A majority of senators would have to agree to consider new evidence, and then they would vote on admitting specific witnesses or documents individually.

While the Senate trial commenced with hours of debate over the format of Mr. Trump’s trial, the president met with world leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he trumpeted the strong American economy, heaping praise upon himself.

But when Democrats called for the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, to turn over documents related to the Ukraine matter, the White House hit back with a sharp statement on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

“The Democrats are an utter joke — they have no case, and this latest political stunt proves it,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. “The idea that the counsel to the president has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the president of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd.”

Earlier on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump was asked a question about the impeachment trial, taking place thousands of miles away, he said, “That whole thing is a hoax.”

Mr. Trump is expected to be back in Washington Wednesday evening.

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Impeachment Live: Highlights and Takeaways

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-live-mcconnellsub-superJumbo Impeachment Live: Highlights and Takeaways United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Schiff, Adam B Republican Party Politics and Government McConnell, Mitch impeachment Democratic Party

A debate is under way in the Senate over the ground rules the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has proposed for President Trump’s trial.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Senate convened shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday to start in earnest the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, who faces charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress. Senators were warned that they had to remain quiet, a skill that they rarely exercise in the Senate chamber, or face imprisonment.

The first order of business was a debate over the format of the trial, a draft of which Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, released on Monday. Democrats spent the morning lashing out against Mr. McConnell’s plan, accusing him and other Republicans of trying to cover up Mr. Trump’s actions.

Unlike most other debates in the Senate, the elected senators will not be doing the debating. Instead, the seven House impeachment managers, who are serving as prosecutors in the case, and Mr. Trump’s legal defense team will argue over the rules that will govern the proceedings. The first round of the debate on Tuesday lasted less than two hours, which was the total amount of time allowed.

After a brief recess, the House managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team started to debate an amendment from the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, which included calling for the subpoena of Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to provide documents and records related to Trump objectives with Ukraine.

Less than a day after releasing his rules proposal and drawing outrage from Democrats, Mr. McConnell submitted to the Senate a modified version with two significant changes. The most notable was a provision automatically entering evidence collected during the House impeachment inquiry into the trial record. The earlier version of Mr. McConnell’s proposal would have put the decision of whether to admit the House evidence to a Senate vote.

Mr. McConnell also gave the House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team an additional day to argue their cases under the proposed rules the Senate began considering Tuesday afternoon. The initial proposal gave each side up to 24 hours over two days — a time frame Democrats criticized because it could push key testimony into early morning hours, when most Americans would be sleeping.

Each side still gets a total of 24 hours to present, but spreading it across three days will give both legal teams more time to lay out their cases and end the days earlier. Mr. McConnell made the changes after key Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, argued that the rules for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial should not deviate significantly from the rules used during the only modern precedent, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. In that trial, the Senate gave each side 24 hours to present their opening arguments, with no other limit on how the time was used.

Ms. Collins, a moderate Republican who is likely to face a tough re-election bid later this year, has significant sway with Mr. McConnell, as her votes could change the outcome of the trial.

Even as Democrats lodged an unexpected victory Tuesday with the changes Mr. McConnell made to his proposed rules for the trial, they are still hoping to persuade some Republicans to join them in making other changes to the proceedings that Mr. McConnell opposes.

“The real test will be if they pressure Senator McConnell to allow witnesses and documents,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement during a brief break in the trial.

Mr. McConnell’s plan would have the Senate vote first on whether they want to consider new evidence at all, even as more details from key witnesses emerged in recent weeks and John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, said he would testify if subpoenaed. Mr. Bolton has firsthand accounts of some of the White House’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to benefit Mr. Trump.

A majority of senators would have to agree to consider new evidence, and then they would vote on admitting specific witnesses or documents individually.

While the Senate trial commenced with hours of debate over the format of Mr. Trump’s trial, the president met with world leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he trumpeted the strong American economy, heaping praise upon himself.

But when Democrats called for the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, to turn over documents related to the Ukraine matter, the White House hit back with a sharp statement on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

“The Democrats are an utter joke — they have no case, and this latest political stunt proves it,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. “The idea that the counsel to the president has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the president of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd.”

Earlier on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump was asked a question about the impeachment trial, taking place thousands of miles away, he said, “That whole thing is a hoax.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, whose call with Mr. Trump led to the whistle-blower complaint that jump-started the impeachment inquiry, is also at the Davos forum. It was unclear if the two world leaders would meet at some point.

While impeachment loomed large over Mr. Trump and his aides, the president’s economic policies drew a favorable response among the wealthy audience at Davos, many of whom were wary of what a progressive Democrat taking over the Oval Office could mean for them.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Impeachment Live Stream: Highlights and Takeaways

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-live-mcconnellsub-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Live Stream: Highlights and Takeaways United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Schiff, Adam B Republican Party Politics and Government McConnell, Mitch impeachment Democratic Party

A debate is under way in the Senate over the ground rules the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has proposed for President Trump’s trial.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Senate convened shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday to start in earnest the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, who faces charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress. Senators were warned that they had to remain quiet, a skill that they rarely exercise in the Senate chamber, or face imprisonment.

The first order of business was a debate over the format of the trial, a draft of which Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, released on Monday. Democrats spent the morning lashing out against Mr. McConnell’s plan, accusing him and other Republicans of trying to cover up Mr. Trump’s actions.

Unlike most other debates in the Senate, the elected senators will not be doing the debating. Instead, the seven House impeachment managers, who are serving as prosecutors in the case, and Mr. Trump’s legal defense team will argue over the rules that will govern the proceedings. The first round of the debate on Tuesday is expected to last two hours.

The House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team will each have an additional day to argue their cases under the proposed rules the Senate began considering Tuesday afternoon.

This is a change from Mr. McConnell’s initial proposal, which gave each side up to 24 hours over two days — a time frame Democrats criticized because it could push key testimony into early morning hours, when most Americans would be sleeping.

Each side still gets a total of 24 hours to present, but spreading it across three days will give both legal teams more time to lay out their cases and end the days earlier.

Mr. McConnell made the change after key Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, argued that the rules for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial should not deviate from the rules used during the only modern precedent, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Ms. Collins, a moderate Republican who is likely to face a tough re-election bid later this year, has significant sway with Mr. McConnell, as her votes could change the outcome of the trial.

For weeks, Mr. McConnell, who has significant control over how the trial unfolds, has said Mr. Trump’s trial would be modeled after the Senate’s structure for Mr. Clinton’s trial.

But the proposal Mr. McConnell released Monday evening had some significant differences, including a provision that would speed up the time allowed for opening arguments. It would also allow admitting the records generated by the House impeachment inquiry into evidence only if a majority of senators agree to doing so. In the Clinton trial, those records were admitted automatically. Mr. McConnell appeared to walk back that change Tuesday. The rules he submitted to the Senate would automatically enter the evidence collected by the House impeachment inquiry into the Senate record of the trial.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of New York and one of seven House impeachment managers who will argue for impeaching President Trump during the Senate trial, said Tuesday that a key element of the rules for Mr. Clinton’s trial was that they were agreed on by the Senate’s top Republican and Democrat.

Mr. McConnell’s Democratic counterpart, Mr. Schumer of New York, was not consulted.

Democrats have also pushed for the trial rules to allow for calling witnesses and admitting new documents into evidence. Mr. McConnell’s plan would have the Senate first vote on whether they want to consider new evidence at all. If a majority of senators agreed to do so, then they would vote on admitting specific witnesses or documents individually.

Mr. Schiff said what Mr. McConnell had offered did “not describe the process for a fair trial.”

Mr. Schumer said the first amendment he planned to offer to Mr. McConnell’s rules would require the Senate to subpoena White House documents related to the charges against Mr. Trump.

While the Senate trial commenced with hours of debate over the format of Mr. Trump’s trial, the president met with world leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he trumpeted the strong American economy, heaping praise upon himself.

But when Democrats called for the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, to turn over documents related to the Ukraine matter, the White House hit back with a sharp statement on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

“The Democrats are an utter joke — they have no case, and this latest political stunt proves it,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. “The idea that the counsel to the president has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the president of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd.”

Earlier on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump was asked a question about the impeachment trial, taking place thousands of miles away, he said, “That whole thing is a hoax.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, whose call with Mr. Trump led to the whistle-blower complaint that jump-started the impeachment inquiry, is also at the Davos forum. It was unclear if the two world leaders would meet at some point.

While impeachment loomed large over Mr. Trump and his aides, the president’s economic policies drew a favorable response among the wealthy audience at Davos, many of whom were wary of what a progressive Democrat taking over the Oval Office could mean for them.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Impeachment Live Stream: Highlights and Takeaways

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-live-mcconnellsub-videoSixteenByNine3000 Impeachment Live Stream: Highlights and Takeaways United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Senate Schumer, Charles E Schiff, Adam B Republican Party Politics and Government McConnell, Mitch impeachment Democratic Party

A debate is under way in the Senate over the ground rules the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, has proposed for President Trump’s trial.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The Senate convened shortly after 1 p.m. on Tuesday to start in earnest the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, who faces charges that he abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress. Senators were warned that they had to remain quiet, a skill that they rarely exercise in the Senate chamber, or face imprisonment.

The first order of business was a debate over the format of the trial, a draft of which Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, released on Monday. Democrats spent the morning lashing out against Mr. McConnell’s plan, accusing him and other Republicans of trying to cover up Mr. Trump’s actions.

Unlike most other debates in the Senate, the elected senators will not be doing the debating. Instead, the seven House impeachment managers, who are serving as prosecutors in the case, and Mr. Trump’s legal defense team will argue over the rules that will govern the proceedings. The first round of the debate on Tuesday is expected to last two hours.

The House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense team will each have an additional day to argue their cases under the proposed rules the Senate began considering Tuesday afternoon.

This is a change from Mr. McConnell’s initial proposal, which gave each side up to 24 hours over two days — a time frame Democrats criticized because it could push key testimony into early morning hours, when most Americans would be sleeping.

Each side still gets a total of 24 hours to present, but spreading it across three days will give both legal teams more time to lay out their cases and end the days earlier.

Mr. McConnell made the change after key Republican senators, including Susan Collins of Maine, argued that the rules for Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial should not deviate from the rules used during the only modern precedent, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Ms. Collins, a moderate Republican who is likely to face a tough re-election bid later this year, has significant sway with Mr. McConnell, as her votes could change the outcome of the trial.

For weeks, Mr. McConnell, who has significant control over how the trial unfolds, has said Mr. Trump’s trial would be modeled after the Senate’s structure for Mr. Clinton’s trial.

But the proposal Mr. McConnell released Monday evening had some significant differences, including a provision that would speed up the time allowed for opening arguments. It would also allow admitting the records generated by the House impeachment inquiry into evidence only if a majority of senators agree to doing so. In the Clinton trial, those records were admitted automatically. Mr. McConnell appeared to walk back that change Tuesday. The rules he submitted to the Senate would automatically enter the evidence collected by the House impeachment inquiry into the Senate record of the trial.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of New York and one of seven House impeachment managers who will argue for impeaching President Trump during the Senate trial, said Tuesday that a key element of the rules for Mr. Clinton’s trial was that they were agreed on by the Senate’s top Republican and Democrat.

Mr. McConnell’s Democratic counterpart, Mr. Schumer of New York, was not consulted.

Democrats have also pushed for the trial rules to allow for calling witnesses and admitting new documents into evidence. Mr. McConnell’s plan would have the Senate first vote on whether they want to consider new evidence at all. If a majority of senators agreed to do so, then they would vote on admitting specific witnesses or documents individually.

Mr. Schiff said what Mr. McConnell had offered did “not describe the process for a fair trial.”

Mr. Schumer said the first amendment he planned to offer to Mr. McConnell’s rules would require the Senate to subpoena White House documents related to the charges against Mr. Trump.

While the Senate trial commenced with hours of debate over the format of Mr. Trump’s trial, the president met with world leaders at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he trumpeted the strong American economy, heaping praise upon himself.

But when Democrats called for the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, to turn over documents related to the Ukraine matter, the White House hit back with a sharp statement on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

“The Democrats are an utter joke — they have no case, and this latest political stunt proves it,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. “The idea that the counsel to the president has to turn over protected documents and confidential information is ludicrous, and to imply he can’t represent the president of the United States in an impeachment proceeding is completely absurd.”

Earlier on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump was asked a question about the impeachment trial, taking place thousands of miles away, he said, “That whole thing is a hoax.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, whose call with Mr. Trump led to the whistle-blower complaint that jump-started the impeachment inquiry, is also at the Davos forum. It was unclear if the two world leaders would meet at some point.

While impeachment loomed large over Mr. Trump and his aides, the president’s economic policies drew a favorable response among the wealthy audience at Davos, many of whom were wary of what a progressive Democrat taking over the Oval Office could mean for them.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Focuses on Economy at Davos, Seeking a Counter to Impeachment

Westlake Legal Group 21prexy-davos1sub-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Focuses on Economy at Davos, Seeking a Counter to Impeachment United States Politics and Government United States Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Switzerland High Net Worth Individuals Global Warming Ethics and Official Misconduct Davos (Switzerland)

DAVOS, Switzerland — President Trump swept into this glitzy Alpine village on Tuesday, full of flattery as he schmoozed with global business leaders, as if there were no talk of removing him from office and no impeachment trial unfolding 4,000 miles away in Washington.

Mr. Trump appeared to relish the escape offered by the World Economic Forum and the friendly — to his face, at least — crowd of elites in the snow-covered Alps. He was in a jovial mood, according to people who spoke with him, engaging in animated conversations with chief executives like Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, Sundar Pichai of Alphabet and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.

He congratulated them on their companies’ stock performances and joked that he should have bought shares but that he had been forced to sell his holdings when he took office. As Mr. Trump and his family members darted between meetings in makeshift pavilions, they studiously avoided questions about the drama back home, where the Senate was expected to begin a fierce partisan squabble over the rules for putting the president on trial.

Mr. Trump’s trip to Davos was his first appearance on the international stage since Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Before he arrived in the Swiss town, the open question, as always with Mr. Trump, was how much he would stray from his script and vent his grievances about his legal and political predicament.

But Mr. Trump stuck to his prepared remarks, making inflated claims about his role in a global economic recovery and touting a message of America’s supremacy. When reporters asked him about the impeachment trial, he swatted it away as “just a hoax.”

“America’s economy was in a rather dismal state,” Mr. Trump said during his 30-minute speech. “Before my presidency began, the outlook for many economies was bleak.”

Although the economy’s recovery after its plummet was central to President Barack Obama’s legacy, Mr. Trump said that his administration had created a “roaring geyser of opportunity” and proclaimed that “the American dream is back bigger, better and stronger than ever before.”

Addressing a global audience, Mr. Trump delivered what amounted to a version of his campaign speech, speaking little of international alliances and touting America’s supremacy in the world.

At a conference that has dedicated itself this year to the issue of global warming, Mr. Trump also took a swipe at those demanding action. He announced that the United States would join an initiative to plant a trillion trees that was launched at the event, but he also declared that “we must reject the perennial prophets of doom” and that it was “not a time for pessimism.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, who was seen leaving Mr. Trump’s speech, declined to comment on the president’s remarks.

Mr. Trump arrived in Switzerland on Tuesday morning, taking a ride in Marine One over the Alps, from Zurich to Davos. The altitude increased the sense that the bitter partisan fight that would take place in the Capitol was a world away.

As his motorcade made its way through twisty, snow-covered streets to the Davos Congress Centre, a group of nine Swiss tenors entertained the crowd with a version of “Ranz des vaches,” a mellifluous song for calling home cows.

It was a more peaceful serenade than the songs that typically precede Mr. Trump’s entrance onstage, like “Macho Man” by the Village People and “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones.

Mr. Trump was also a more mellow version of himself.

He highlighted the first phase of his trade deal with China and another with Mexico and Canada. And the audience appeared receptive, having warmed to him over the past two years as they have benefited from his policies.

“Lev Parnas is not a topic of conversation at Davos,” said Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political research and consulting firm.

Mr. Parnas, an associate of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been on a media tour over the past week, asserting that the president was fully aware of the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals. Democrats have not ruled out trying to call Mr. Parnas as a witness in the impeachment trial.

In Davos, however, television screens were filled with the face of a different Trump antagonist: the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was the other star speaker of the day. In a speech there, she warned that “our house is still on fire” and that “inaction is fueling the flames by the hour.”

Mr. Trump did not mention Ms. Thunberg by name in his speech. But when he talked about the importance of clean water and clean air, he added that “fear and doubt is not a good thought process.”

His speech also included inflated or false claims that seemed, at times, disconnected from the concerns of an international audience.

“I saved HBCUs. We saved them,” Mr. Trump claimed, referring to historically black colleges and universities. “They were going out and we saved them.” While the administration has increased investment in the schools 14.3 percent, and although a number of them have struggled financially, there is no evidence that they were on the verge of extinction. In the past six years, one has closed and about 100 remain.

Hanging over the conference was also the question of whether Mr. Trump would try to stage a surprise meeting there with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, even though officials said the optics of such a meeting would be unhelpful to Mr. Trump.

In Davos, however, Mr. Trump may have found the right audience for support to counter the impeachment trial that is dominating the news at home. There was less anxiety about him rippling through the 1 percent set on Tuesday than when he arrived at the annual forum two years ago, fresh off an “America First” campaign filled with promises to rip up international agreements and alliances.

This time, there was more concern about some of the progressive Democrats running to replace him. Through regulatory rollbacks, tax cuts and the success of the global economy, the president who ran as a populist has benefited many of the chief executives gathered at the event, even those who have taken public positions against some of his policies.

“There are lot of masters of the universe who think he may not be their cup of tea, but he’s been a godsend,” said Mr. Bremmer, of Eurasia Group. “It’s interesting to hear Mike Bloomberg saying he would fund Bernie Sanders’s campaign if he won the nomination. Very few people here would say that.”

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who is running for president, has said he is open to spending $1 billion to defeat Mr. Trump, whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee.

During Mr. Trump’s career in New York real estate, entertainment and business, he never cracked the Davos set, whose Fortune 500 chief executives dismissed him as something of a gaudy sideshow.

But the balance of power has shifted. And with progressives like Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts emerging as top-tier candidates in the Democratic primary, a crowd that once rejected Mr. Trump is now more willing to consider him one of its own.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump happily embraced them back. After his speech, he met with the International Business Council, where he greeted every chief executive personally, according to attendees.

The meeting was less about substance and more about socializing, one attendee said, as Mr. Trump grilled corporate leaders about whether they liked his speech. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also worked the room.

There were however, still points of contention during the conference for Mr. Trump, who planned to spend almost two days there in bilateral meetings with leaders of Iraq, Pakistan and the Kurdish regional government, as well as sitdowns with corporate chieftains. (The forum is also Mr. Trump’s first trip abroad since the drone attack that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important military official.)

And topping the conference’s agenda was climate change, an issue where Mr. Trump’s agenda is far out of line with the rest of the attendees. He was preceded onstage by Klaus Schwab, a founder of the Forum, who proclaimed that “the world is in a state of emergency,” and Simonetta Sommaruga, the president of the Swiss Federation, who said that “the world is on fire.”

Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, and his administration has expanded the use of coal, played down concerns about climate change and rolled back environmental protections.

The president mocked Ms. Thunberg after she was chosen last month as Time magazine’s Person of the Year. “So ridiculous,” he tweeted. “Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old-fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

In 2018, Mr. Trump was the first sitting president to attend the forum since President Bill Clinton did so in 2000. Last year, he abruptly canceled his plans to attend, citing a partial government shutdown.

This year, the administration delegation includes Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as well as Robert Lighthizer, the trade representative. Other members of the administration who were expected to attend were Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary; Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary; and Eugene Scalia, the labor secretary. Mr. Trump was also accompanied by Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, and Stephen Miller, his policy adviser and speechwriter.

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting.

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