Trump’s Impeachment Trial Commences Amid Clash Over Procedure
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the United States President, commenced at the US Senate on Tuesday amid debates over the procedure of the hearing.
By party-line votes of 53-47, the Senate, led by the Republican Party, rejected three bids from the Democratic Party on Tuesday to obtain documents and evidence in the impeachment trial.
Senators blocked a motion from Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena White House files related to Mr Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
They also rejected follow-up motions demanding a subpoena of records and documents from the state department and White House budget office.
In his opening statement, Adam Schiff, the Lead Impeachment Manager of the US House of Representatives, said most Americans “do not believe there will be a fair trial”.
“They don’t believe the Senate will be impartial. They believe the result is pre-cooked,” Schiff, who is a Democrat, said.
But the president’s legal team had demanded he be immediately acquitted, calling the trial “a dangerous perversion of the constitution”.
The first day of proceedings ran late into the night.
Meanwhile, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader, has backed off on a plan to fast-track the hearing.
Senator McConnell had initially planned to condense the opening arguments from three days to two.
But after a meeting with senators, including some Republicans, the Senate Majority Leader, agreed on Tuesday to three days for opening arguments.
The senators had expressed concern about how middle-of-the-night sessions would look to US voters.
President Trump was impeached last month by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
He is accused of asking Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, during a phone call on July 25, 2019, to launch an anti-corruption investigation into Democratic presidential aspirant, Joe Biden, whose son, Hunter, held a board position with a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma.
The second allegation is that the US President obstructed Congress by refusing to allow White House staff to testify at the impeachment hearings last year.
Trump is the third president in US history to face an impeachment trial.
The US President, who is currently attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switerzland, dismissed the allegations and trial as “just a hoax”.