Donald Trump impeachment: Senate trial officially underway, bitter debate dominates Day 1

WION Web Team Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America Jan 22, 2020, 08.51 AM(IST)

The US Capitol Dome during the first evening of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial January 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The Democrats and Republicans clashed on what has become the most contentious issue of the trial — calling new witnesses and documents.

The US Senate convenes to debate a resolution setting the rules for the impeachment trial against Donald Trump. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell changes trial limits after an uproar from democrats and concerns from some Republicans, now each side will get 24 hours for opening arguments over three days.

Also read: Sparks fly as Trump impeachment trial opens

And there are early indications, that the trial will be the political slugfest, that many predicted.

The Democrats and Republicans clashed on what has become the most contentious issue of the trial — calling new witnesses and documents.

Also read: Trump impeachment trial opens as watchdog faults White House on Ukraine

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called the senate trial rules 'completely partisan'.

He said the rules were framed by President Trump himself.

"The Republican leader will offer an organizing resolution that outlines his plan, his plan, for the rules of the trial. It is completely partisan. It was kept secret until the very eve of the trial. And now that it's public, it's very easy to see why. The McConnell rules seem to be designed by President Trump for President Trump," said Chuck Schumer, the minority leader.

However, Schumer's amendments to subpoena key Trump aides is being shot down by the Republicans one-by-one.

First, the proposals to request White House and State Department documents were voted down by the republicans.

Another proposal to subpoena acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has also been rejected by the Senate.

Most of the voting so far has remained along partisan lines.

Trump's legal team has argued that these witnesses were not part of the house hearings, and therefore cannot be included now.

They have argued that the Senate must not do the house's job for it. "We are being told that majority leader Mitch McConnell is in favour of finalising the trial rules today."

Minority leader Chuck Schumer, however, is introducing separate amendments for Trump aides and government documents. Schumer is also insisting on voting for each amendment.

The huge uproar by the Democrats was not completely ineffective.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was forced to tweak his trial rules in a last-minute organising resolution.

The major change is that both sides will now get 24 hours to make opening comments over three days instead of two.

And all house evidence will be admitted unless there is a vote against it.

As all this drama unfolded in the senate, Donald trump was keeping a close watch from Davos, where he is attending the world economic forum summit.

He tweeted amid the trial with a single statement — Read the transcripts.

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