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Senate sets impeachment trial rules, opening argument to begin
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Senate sets impeachment trial rules, opening argument to begin

The US Senate finalized the rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump after hours of debate concluding in the early morning on Wednesday.

The rules for the impeachment trial differ from the previously released rules by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after push-back from moderate Republicans. However, the rules do not permit witnesses and documents related to Ukraine to be subpoenaed as Democrats had hoped.

The changes to the previously released rules are handwritten on the resolution. The new rules increase the number of days allotted for opening arguments, now allowing three days for 24 hours of opening arguments instead of two days. Additionally, the new rules allow for evidence that was presented to the House of Representatives during the impeachment inquiry to be automatically admitted instead of requiring the Senate to vote to admit the evidence. However, the White House counsel can seek to dismiss parts of the House’s evidence.

During Tuesday’s debate, Senate Democrats proposed 12 amendments to the rules, primarily seeking to permit witnesses and documents from Ukraine to be subpoenaed. Eleven of the amendments were blocked along party lines (53-47). One amendment, which would have provided parties 24 hours to file trial motions, gained the support of Maine’s Senator Susan Collins. Just before the 2 AM ET on Wednesday, the debate ended, and the impeachment trial rules were set.

The third impeachment trial in American history created an unusual setting in the Senate Chambers. Chief Justice John Roberts presided over the chambers. He will be doing double-duty by presiding over this impeachment trial in the Senate and oral arguments during the current Supreme Court term. Senators were sworn to silence, and the House Impeachment Managers and White House Counsel debated the merits of the proposed rules and Amendments. The House Impeachment Managers are led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. The Impeachment Managers also include the first woman to serve on as an Impeachment Manager, Representative Zoe Lofgren of California. White House Counsel is led by Pat Cipollone.

Opening arguments for the impeachment trial are set for 1 PM ET on Wednesday.