Senate Republicans on Tuesday backed down from proposing new restrictions on evidence and offered a different timetable for both sides to present arguments, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he wants witnesses to be called.
“The public is understanding how unfair Senator McConnell’s trial rules are and Republican Senators are beginning to tell him to change them. The real test will be if they pressure Senator McConnell to allow witnesses and documents,” Schumer said in a statement following the rule changes that were unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
McConnell made two changes Tuesday to the draft of the organizing resolution that he sent out on Monday night. He agreed to give the Democrats more time to make their opening arguments—three days instead of two. He also allowed evidence compiled by the House impeachment inquiry to be automatically entered into the Senate’s record of the trial.
The alterations were made after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and others pressed McConnell during a lunch meeting.
“Senator Collins and others raised concerns about the 24 hours of opening statements in 2 days and the admission of the House transcript in the record,” Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins, told The Hill. “Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement,” Clark added.
On the outset of the trial, battle lines between both Democrats and Republicans were drawn, with the president’s legal team making arguments to support McConnell’s plan.
“It’s time to start with this trial,” said White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, noting that the House delayed sending the two articles of impeachment—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—for 33 days before they were delivered to the Senate. “They have no case. Frankly, they have no charge,” he remarked.
But House manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, pushed back and claimed the Senate Republicans were trying to obstruct the trial.
“Will the president & the American people get a fair trial? I submit that this is an even more important question than how you vote on guilt or innocence because whether we have a fair trial will determine whether you have a basis to render a fair and impartial verdict,” he said.
“READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” Trump wrote on Twitter while he was meeting with global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Trump is referring to the transcript of his phone call in which he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” corruption allegations about former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings while his father was in office. Democrats alleged that Trump withheld military aid to exert pressure on Zelensky during the July 2019 call, which was at the center of the impeachment inquiry.