Schiff joins Schumer in blasting McConnell's impeachment trial rules

Jon Ward
Senior Political Correspondent

The lead House impeachment manager, Adam Schiff, joined the Senate Democratic leader in slamming the rules unveiled by Republicans late Monday for the Senate trial, calling the guidelines “a process for a rigged trial.”

“This is part and parcel of an effort to cover up the president’s misconduct,” Schiff, a California Democrat and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday morning.

Schiff and the six other impeachment managers spoke to reporters on the House side of the Capitol, a few hours before the Senate was set to begin proceedings.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the rules Monday evening after keeping such a close hold on them for weeks that even President Trump’s legal team had reportedly not seen them.

The biggest change from the 1999 Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton was that the House managers — essentially the prosecution in the case — would have had only two days for opening arguments, a severe limit compared with what was done 21 years ago.

Democratic House impeachment manager Adam Schiff speaks at the Capitol on Tuesday. (Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

In 1999, the rules for the trial provided each side 24 hours to make its opening arguments, without regard for how many days it might take. Ultimately, House impeachment managers used three days for their opening argument, totaling just over 15 hours.

This time, McConnell’s rules initially gave each side 24 hours but limited the use of that time to two “session days.” And because arguments can’t start until at least 1 p.m., that would have meant the impeachment managers would have to go well past midnight if they wanted to use the majority of their time.

“What is Sen. McConnell’s interest in structuring the trial this way?” Schiff asked. “This is not the process for a fair trial. This is the process for a rigged trial.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called McConnell’s rules a “national disgrace” on Monday evening.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at a press conference on Tuesday. (Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

But Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and can pass the rules with no Democratic support with just 51 votes.

However, as the trial began a little after noon, McConnell submitted rules that had been altered to give each side three days, rather than two, to make opening arguments. 

Schumer said Tuesday morning that he will offer a series of amendments to force votes on whether the Senate will subpoena documents that the White House has refused to turn over related to Trump’s hold on military assistance funding to Ukraine, and on whether it will subpoena testimony from witnesses.

“Right off the bat, Republican senators will face a choice about getting the facts or joining Leader McConnell and President Trump in trying to cover them up,” Schumer said.


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