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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 65)

Trump, in Davos to Talk Trade, Lashes Out at Enemies Back Home

Westlake Legal Group 22prexy-facebookJumbo Trump, in Davos to Talk Trade, Lashes Out at Enemies Back Home World Economic Forum United States Economy Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry News and News Media Davos (Switzerland)

DAVOS, Switzerland — President Trump said on Wednesday that he would prefer a long impeachment trial with witness testimony before the Senate, but that national security concerns made that impossible, and added that he would like to attend the trial.

Mr. Trump unleashed on Democrats and the news media in a wide-ranging news conference before leaving Davos, where he met with business and government leaders from around the world, to return to Washington, where impeachment overshadows all else.

A day earlier, Mr. Trump managed to stick to a script about a strong United States economy while addressing a global audience at the World Economic Forum, and he largely swatted away any questions about the impeachment proceedings. But before leaving Switzerland, he called a last-minute news conference, during which he vented at length about his political enemies in Washington as some of his top economic advisers stood silently behind him.

Mr. Trump called Representative Jerry Nadler of New York a “sleaze bag” and referred to Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, as a “con job” and a “corrupt politician.”

The president referred to Mr. Schiff and the other House impeachment managers as “major sleaze bags” and said he would love to attend his own trial in order to “sit right in the front row and stare into their corrupt faces.” But he acknowledged that his lawyers would most likely advise him against doing so.

Mr. Trump’s comments ran counter to the actions of Senate Republicans, who have turned back Democrats’ attempts to subpoena documents and compel White House officials to testify in the impeachment trial. Mr. Trump claimed that he favored a drawn-out process that would allow witnesses like John Bolton, the former national security adviser; Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but said that allowing them to testify would create “a national security problem.”

But Mr. Trump also expressed reservations about the idea of Mr. Bolton, whom he forced out in September, appearing as a witness because “you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.” He said his break with Mr. Bolton was “due to me, not due to him.”

White House officials had hoped that the World Economic Forum would give the president an opportunity to highlight economic successes that they see as being supplanted at home by the impeachment investigations and, now, a trial.

Mr. Trump began the news conference on Wednesday by pointing out economic gains and claiming that “Davos has treated us beautifully.” But after a day of ignoring reporters’ questions, he appeared eager to discuss the impeachment proceedings.

He said that the White House would be right to assert executive privilege to block Mr. Bolton from testifying, even as he claimed he was open to hearing from his former adviser.

“John would certainly fit into that,” he said. “When he knows my thoughts on certain people and other governments, war and peace and different things, that’s a national security problem.” He said a “national security problem” would also stand in the way of Mr. Pompeo appearing before the Senate.

He cited an October appearance by Mr. Mulvaney on “Fox News Sunday” as the reason his testimony under oath was not necessary. “He’s really expressed himself very well when he did a Chris Wallace interview,” Mr. Trump said. “I think there’s not much to add.”

Mr. Trump appeared eager to defy expectations that he would pick a fight with another high-profile guest at the conference, the 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, whom he has criticized in the past.

“She beat me out on Time magazine,” Mr. Trump said, referring to her being named Time’s person of the year in December.

“I would have loved to have seen her speak,” he said, but he recommended she “start working on those other countries,” because “our water numbers, our numbers on air, are tremendous.”

Mr. Trump also launched a broadside against the news media, even as he congratulated an NBC News television correspondent, Kristen Welker, on a promotion and hinted that he might be willing to appear on her show. “If we could straighten out the press in our country, we would have a place that would be so incredible,” he said.

Mr. Trump also insisted that his side of the story was the easy one to explain, and that he was simply a target because of his own success. “I’m honest,” he said. “I make great deals.”

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

Who is Hakeem Jeffries? Impeachment Manager is Democrats’ Messaging Guru

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-jeffries-facebookJumbo Who is Hakeem Jeffries? Impeachment Manager is Democrats' Messaging Guru United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Jeffries, Hakeem impeachment Ethics and Official Misconduct

WASHINGTON — Standing on the House floor hours before voting to impeach President Trump, Representative Hakeem Jeffries issued a characteristically quotable pledge.

“We will impeach Donald John Trump,” said Mr. Jeffries, Democrat of New York. “We will clarify that, in America, no one is above the law.”

Having already made good on the first prong of his vow, he will take up the second in the coming weeks as one of the impeachment managers who will prosecute House Democrats’ case against Mr. Trump at trial in the Senate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to elevate him to the sought-after role is a sign of her trust in Mr. Jeffries, who as the No. 5 House Democrat is the highest-ranked member of leadership to be included on the team.

Mr. Jeffries, 48, is openly ambitious and is regarded by many Democrats as poised to become the first black speaker of the House when Ms. Pelosi steps aside. Elected in November as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Mr. Jeffries, of Brooklyn, has emerged as one of the Democrats’ top messaging lieutenants, letting acidic rebukes of the president and Republicans roll off his tongue even as he seeks to focus attention on the caucus’s legislative priorities.

“We must hold this president accountable for his stunning abuse of power,” Mr. Jeffries said as the House Judiciary Committee debated the articles of impeachment. “We must hold this president accountable for undermining America’s national security. We must impeach this president.”

Mr. Jeffries has shown few signs of tempering that approach. When a reporter on Tuesday asked him about comments made by Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, suggesting former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. should suspend his presidential campaign during the Senate trial, Mr. Jeffries deadpanned, “Who?”

“We will not take political advice from Kevin McCarthy,” he replied icily.

As likely to quote from the Bible as he is from 1990s hip-hop lyrics, Mr. Jeffries’s rhetorical skills were honed as a high-powered litigator working at an elite corporate law firm in New York, where he defended CBS in a lawsuit over Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl.

Mr. Jeffries won his first race in 2006, securing a seat in the New York State Assembly after two unsuccessful attempts. He was elected to Congress in 2012.

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Trade War’s Pain May Deepen Even as Tensions Abate

Westlake Legal Group 00trade-damage1-facebookJumbo Trade War’s Pain May Deepen Even as Tensions Abate United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Trucks and Trucking Recession and Depression Railroads Ports International Trade and World Market Factories and Manufacturing Customs (Tariff)

The trade war is de-escalating, at least for now. But the economic damage it caused could be far from over.

Two years of tit-for-tat tariffs and on-again-off-again trade talks have left American farmers reeling. The manufacturing sector is in a recession, albeit a relatively mild one, and factory employment declined in December after rising slowly for most of last year. And in recent months, there have been signs that the damage is spreading: Railroads and trucking companies have been cutting jobs, and consumers — at least in the parts of the country most affected by the trade disputes — may be pulling back as well.

“Even if manufacturing started to recover, there’s still going to be some continuing cutbacks in nonmanufacturing industries as they start to respond,” said Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University in Indiana. “The full effect of the layoffs hasn’t really been transmitted to the full economy yet.”

Events last week in Washington signaled a shift from confrontation to conciliation. President Trump signed a preliminary trade deal with China that, if fully carried out, would increase American exports and prevent new tariffs, though it will not remove most duties already in place. And the Senate approved an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which now awaits Mr. Trump’s signature.

Experts said the agreements should help restore confidence among business leaders after months of trade-related uncertainty. But even if those deals hold, the ripple effects of the trade war could take time to dissipate.

Other factors are also hurting manufacturing. A global economic slowdown — caused partly, but not entirely, by trade tensions — has curbed demand for American products abroad. Falling energy prices have led to a pullback in oil drilling and reduced the need for oil field equipment. Boeing’s recent decision to halt production of its troubled 737 Max aircraft has sent shock waves through the company’s vast supply chain; economists at Moody’s Analytics estimate that the shutdown could shave half a percentage point off first-quarter economic growth.

But economists say there is little doubt that trade has been the driving force of the industrial slowdown, with implications for the rest of the economy. The spillover effects are clearest in the transportation sector, where business slowed for railroads and trucking companies as trade slumped last year.

Freight volumes fell 7.9 percent in December from a year earlier, the greatest year-over-year decline since the recession a decade ago, according to data from Cass Information Systems. More than 10,000 jobs were cut by transportation and warehouse employers in December, the biggest drop in nearly four years.

Job growth has slowed sharply — from an annual rate of 2.6 percent at the start of 2019 to 1.3 percent at the end — in so-called middle wage sectors that include mining, construction and transportation, according to calculations by Nick Bunker, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab. That slowdown is driving the deceleration of job growth across the American economy.

Railroads have been hit particularly hard, analysts said. Ian Jefferies, president of the Association of American Railroads, said the slowdown in trade had led to lower rail volumes in grains and industrial equipment in particular.

“Trade uncertainty has played a pretty large role” in the rail slowdown, Mr. Jefferies said. The recent deals, he added, should “provide some much-needed certainty back into the system.”

To Kevin Luke, who transports goods from the Port of Long Beach near Los Angeles to local distribution centers, the effect of the trade war has been clear and pronounced.

Business was brisk in 2018, with Mr. Luke’s company, KNL Luxury, collecting about $250,000 in revenue, prompting an investment in a second truck. But the slowdown in imports meant the demand he had expected never materialized. In the end, he collected only slightly more revenue in 2019 — just shy of $290,000 — despite having doubled his capacity.

“I tried to invest in the future, I tried to be ready for opportunity,” said Mr. Luke, who has seven children ranging in age from 7 to 19.

If conditions don’t improve, Mr. Luke may have to take up long-haul trucking, which would keep him away from home for long stretches.

The trade war hit the trucking industry at a vulnerable moment, said Aaron Terrazas, director of economic research at Convoy, a shipping-focused technology company. Trucking companies expanded aggressively in recent years, adding trucks and drivers more quickly than demand was growing. The resulting glut pushed down prices, just as the slowdown in trade began eating into demand.

“There was almost this one-two punch where we were having this normal supply correction in the market and subsequently we got hit by the trade war,” Mr. Terrazas said.

Mr. Trump and his allies have said the trade deals will deliver a jolt to the economy and lead to faster growth this year. But economists are skeptical. Wall Street analysts expect growth, which is already cooling, to slow further in early 2020, and few have marked up their estimates in response to the trade announcements.

“I think we’re seeing the bottom, but we’re going to bounce around for a period of time before we really see any noticeable growth,” said Eric Starks, chief executive of FTR, a freight research firm. “That is assuming that there are no outside shocks and it seems like every other day a new shock keeps happening.”

Economists said the agreements should help shore up the struggling manufacturing sector and prevent further damage to the economy. But they won’t necessarily heal the damage that has already been done. Companies that shifted supply chains away from China in response to the trade war won’t necessarily move them back now that tensions have cooled, for example. And companies may be hesitant to commit to long-term investments until they see evidence that the trade deals will last.

“How much can we really go back to the way things were before this tiff?” Mr. Terrazas asked rhetorically. “Are they going to go back quickly to the way things were before, or are companies going to say this new uncertainty is going to be a feature of the global trade picture for the years ahead?”

Manufacturing is a relatively small part of the American economy, and there is little risk that even a sustained slump in manufacturing could, on its own, push the country into a recession. Consumer spending remains robust, and the fears of a downturn that gripped financial markets over the summer have eased.

Still, the factory sector remains the centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s economic appeal to voters, especially in the industrial states that lifted him to the White House in 2016. “This is a blue-collar boom,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday in a speech in Davos, Switzerland. “We have created 1.2 million manufacturing and construction jobs — a number also unthinkable.”

Only 197,000 of those jobs were created last year, however, a sharp deceleration from the first two years of his administration. The United States created 1.1 million manufacturing and construction jobs in the three years before he took office.

There are signs that in the places most exposed to the trade war — particularly Wisconsin and other Midwestern states — those effects have spread beyond the industrial sector and begun to affect consumers. In a recent working paper, Michael E. Waugh, an economist at New York University, found that automobile sales were growing significantly more slowly in the counties most affected by the tariffs than in the rest of the country. Those places have also seen slower job growth in their retail sectors.

“Things are spilling over in these communities that are relatively more affected,” Mr. Waugh said. “New York is all fine. But there are places in the U.S. that are really struggling.”

The Midwest went through a similar economic soft patch in 2015 and 2016, when falling oil prices and other factors caused a mini-recession in the industrial sector. Mr. Waugh said he saw parallels — although it isn’t clear how they will play out given that this time Mr. Trump is the incumbent.

“Those places slowed down” in 2016, Mr. Waugh said. “Those places influenced the election. And now what do you have today? You have those same places slowing down, and they’re looking pivotal in the election again.”

While some of the effects of the trade war could soon be reversed, others may last longer.

“A lot of customers moved their production out of Asia to Europe and some of them moved their production from Asia to Mexico, so there’s a migration,” said Lidia Yan, the chief executive and co-founder of Next Trucking, a start-up that matches shippers and truckers.

Even in cases where production has been shifted from China to other parts of Asia, including Vietnam and India, West Coast ports may be losers, as exports from the more southerly Asian countries tend to be shipped to the East Coast.

“It’s early days,” said Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “But it’s enough to notice at this point in time, and we’re watching it very closely.”

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

Who Are The House Impeachment Managers?

One was an Army Ranger. Another, a police chief. Still another, a corporate lawyer. Together, seven House Democrats will serve as managers of the impeachment trial in the Senate and press the case that President Trump abused the power of his office and obstructed Congress.

Chosen by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the seven House impeachment managers vary in age and experience and reflect the geographic and demographic diversity of the Democratic caucus, with three women, two African-Americans and one Latina.

Here is a look at the legislators who will prosecute the president.

Colorado

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Credit…Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Representative Jason Crow is the only impeachment manager who does not serve on any of the committees that led the impeachment inquiry. But as a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, he brings military credentials that could play a critical role in the trial as Democrats make the case that Mr. Trump withheld $391 million in military aid in an effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. Mr. Crow was one of seven freshmen from conservative-leaning districts — all military veterans or former intelligence analysts — who wrote an op-ed in September urging Congress to impeach Mr. Trump if the accusations involving military aid were true. Many saw the piece as a crucial development that showed that Democratic lawmakers had enough backing — including among their politically vulnerable colleagues — to press ahead and open an impeachment inquiry into the president. Mr. Crow, who is 40 and a lawyer, flipped a Republican-held seat in 2018.

[Read more about Mr. Crow.]

Florida

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Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Representative Val B. Demings’s law enforcement background; her questioning of Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, in July; and her experience on both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees helped propel her into a role as an impeachment manager in only her second term in Congress. Elected in 2016, Ms. Demings, 62, had a 27-year career in the Orlando Police Department and made history in 2007 as the department’s first female police chief. The youngest of seven children, she grew up in a two-room home in Jacksonville, Fla. Her mother, Elouise, was a maid and her father, James, a janitor. Ms. Demings attended segregated schools and was the first in her family to graduate from college, obtaining a criminology degree from Florida State University.

[Read more about Ms. Demings.]

Texas

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Credit…Susan Walsh/Associated Press

A freshman Democrat and one of the first two Latina congresswomen from Texas, Representative Sylvia R. Garcia will bring to the impeachment trial experience as a lawyer and former presiding judge of the Houston municipal court system. A former Houston city controller and Texas state senator, Ms. Garcia, 69, was elected to Congress in 2018 and serves on the Judiciary Committee, which released a report in December outlining the legal and historical case for impeaching Mr. Trump. Born in a South Texas farming community, the eighth of 10 children, she graduated from Texas Woman’s University and obtained her law degree from Texas Southern University.

[Read more about Ms. Garcia.]

New York

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Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A former litigator and the No. 5 Democrat in the House, Representative Hakeem Jeffries is the highest-ranking member of the party leadership on the impeachment team. Many Democrats believe he is poised to become the first black speaker of the House. During the impeachment process, he has emerged as one of the Democrats’ top messaging lieutenants, deploying punchy declarations of resolve to hold Mr. Trump accountable and icy rebukes of Republicans who have scorned the effort as a partisan ploy. A former litigator at an elite corporate law firm in New York, Mr. Jeffries, 49, once defended CBS in a lawsuit over Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl. He won his first political race in 2006, securing a seat in the New York State Assembly after two unsuccessful attempts. He was elected to Congress in 2012.

[Read more about Mr. Jeffries.]

California

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Representative Zoe Lofgren will enter the Senate trial having played a role in two previous impeachment inquiries. She served on the House Judiciary Committee in 1998, when it approved articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton for lying about an affair with a White House intern. And as a young law student in 1974, she helped the committee draft Watergate charges against President Richard M. Nixon. Ms. Lofgren, 72, served as a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and worked for her predecessor, Representative Don Edwards, before she was elected to the House in 1994. The daughter of a truck driver and a cafeteria cook, she holds degrees from Stanford University and Santa Clara University School of Law.

[Read more about Ms. Lofgren.]

New York

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Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler helped draft and approve the two articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump in December. Campaigning for the committee chairmanship in 2017, Mr. Nadler pitched himself as a lifelong fighter for civil rights and civil liberties as well as an expert in constitutional law who was the “strongest member to lead a potential impeachment.” In the Senate, he is likely to work alongside the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to make the case for why Mr. Trump should be removed from office. The son of a chicken farmer, Mr. Nadler, 72, was elected to Congress in 1992 after serving in the New York State Assembly.

[Read more about Mr. Nadler.]

California

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Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Representative Adam B. Schiff was chosen to be the lead House manager of the impeachment trial after emerging as one of the most prominent Democrats spearheading the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s conduct. A former federal prosecutor who serves as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he began digging into the accusations that gave rise to the impeachment inquiry when he pushed for the disclosure to Congress of a whistle-blower complaint alleging a scheme by the president to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 election. Mr. Schiff’s high-profile role has made him a favorite target of Republicans, including Mr. Trump, who calls him “Little Pencil Neck” and “Shifty Schiff.” Mr. Schiff, 59, graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School and was elected to Congress in 2000 after serving as a California state lawmaker.

[Read more about Mr. Schiff.]

Reporting was contributed by Catie Edmondson, Emily Cochrane, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos.

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

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

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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.

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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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