The motion to table—or kill—the amendment passed in a 53-47 vote, which was the first of the Senate trial.
It was proposed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had sought information and conversations about whether President Donald Trump withheld aid to Ukraine.
Republicans were unified in the move to defeat Schumer’s amendment, despite heavy pressure by him and House impeachment managers, suggesting that Democratic efforts to obtain testimony later on in the trial might fail. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) allowed for some changes to the rules on Tuesday, including allowing House managers and the Trump legal team to make their respective cases in three days instead of two.
Schumer’s amendment would have asked Chief Justice John Roberts to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and tell him to turn over documents and communications regarding President Trump’s phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats have alleged Trump withheld aid in exchange for the probes, which—they have argued—is an impeachable offense.
The vote came after one of Trump’s lawyers, Patrick Philbin, told the Senate that it is “stunning admission” that the Democrats have arrived and said they need more time to obtain evidence, documents, and witnesses. He added that if a litigant showed up in “any court” on the day of trial and claimed they needed more time to build a case, “They’d be thrown out of court and the lawyers would probably be sanctioned.”
Schumer had claimed in a statement: “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. For all of the name-calling and fingerprinting from the president’s counsel, we did not hear a single argument on the merits about why there should not be the documents and witnesses we requested in this trial.”
Earlier in the day, Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled open the session after he called on all 100 senators last week to take an oath to render impartial justice as jurors in the trial.
Trump’s legal team, in a brief, argued that the two charges against the president don’t amount to impeachable offenses and that the president committed no crime.