Senate Approves Trump Impeachment Trial Rules

January 22, 2020 Updated: January 22, 2020

The U.S. Senate voted early on Wednesday to approve rules governing the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, including delaying a debate over whether to call witnesses until the middle of the trial.

The Republican-majority Senate voted 53-47 to adopt the trial plan. Republican senators have not ruled out the possibility of further testimony and evidence at some point.

Opening arguments from House lawmakers prosecuting the case will begin when the trial resumes at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Trump was formally charged on Dec. 18, 2019 by the Democrat-majority House on two articles of impeachment (pdf)—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—without a single Republican vote. The president denies any wrongdoing.

As the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history began in earnest on Tuesday, the two sides began more than 12 hours of squabbling that lasted into Wednesday morning over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for the trial.

Under McConnell’s revised set of procedures for the trial, there will be 48 hours of opening arguments—24 hours for each side—over six days, easing off an earlier plan to keep them to two days each. It also allows the House’s record of the probe to be admitted as evidence.

Senators voted along party lines, 53-47, to block four separate motions from Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena records and documents from the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget related to Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

By the same tally, senators also rejected requests for subpoenas seeking the testimony of acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, White House aide Robert Blair and White House budget official Michael Duffey.

A two-thirds supermajority (67 votes) is required to convict an impeached president and remove them from office.

About 20 Republicans would have to break with their party and join the Democratic minority to achieve a supermajority. Meanwhile, a simple majority (51 votes) is required to dismiss the impeachment charges against Trump.

No president has ever been removed as a direct result of impeachment. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be removed. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached by the House but not convicted in the Senate.

This is a developing story.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.