Under McConnell's rules, Trump's impeachment trial could last well past midnight or end immediately

Peter Weber

The Senate will vote Tuesday on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-K.Y.) proposed rules for President Trump's impeachment trial. If they approve the rules, the senators will be voting for some very late nights at the office.

McConnell's rules allow 24 hours for opening arguments over two sessions. If Trump's team and the House Democratic impeachment managers use all their time, it "could push testimony past midnight," The Washington Post reports. That would be a long time for senators to sit quietly without checking their phones, assuming they show up for the trial, but arguably worse for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.



After the opening arguments, senators would have 16 hours to question Trump's team and the House managers, then four hours to debate whether to allow witnesses and new evidence — and then, whether to allow the House's impeachment documents to be admissible as evidence. That's "a key difference from the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton," the Post notes. "Though the material will be printed and made available to senators, it won’t be automatically admissible unless a majority of senators approve it."

All this may be a moot point, though, because McConnell's rules also allow Trump's team to move to dismiss the charges at any time after the rules are adopted, so 51 senators could end the trial right away. Fox News congressional reporter Chad Pergram isn't impressed.



University of Texas constitutional law professor Steve Vladeck suggests McConnell might not have had impartial justice in mind.



"All 53 Republican senators are expected to support the rules as written by McConnell," the Post reports.

More stories from theweek.com
After rejecting amendments, Senate adopts impeachment trial rules
White House budget office releases heavily redacted Ukraine emails as Senate rejects OMB subpoenas
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow's odd impeachment rant about 'lawyer lawsuits' may stem from a misheard phrase