Republicans Change Trial Rules To Avoid ‘Dark Of Night’ Proceedings
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Senate Republicans have altered planned rules for the Senate impeachment trial to allow House evidence to be included and to avoid late-night proceedings.
Now, on the surface this may seem like McConnell "caved" and gave Democrats what they wanted -- but that's not the entire story.
McConnell took heat this week from Democrats and a few moderate Republicans for drafting trial rules that would require both the impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s defense attorneys to each present arguments over 24 hours spread over two days.
McConnell has extended that rule to 24 hours spread over three days, which will make it less likely that the managers or lawyers will have to extend their arguments late into the night.
McConnell also altered a rule that would have required a Senate vote to admit all of the evidence collected in the House impeachment investigation. Instead, the evidence will be accepted unless the Senate blocks it with a majority vote.
Democrats had decried the rules for veering far from McConnell’s pledge that they would follow the Clinton impeachment trial model from 1999. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, argued the two-day limit would require impeachment managers to make their cases "in the dark of night."
"If the president is so confident in his case, why won't he present it in broad daylight," Schumer said Tuesday.
The rules now more closely mirror the Clinton-era rules, which allowed each side 24 hours, spread over three days, to present arguments.
Why does this matter?
Republicans control a 53-47 majority in the upper chamber. To impeach and remove him from office, Democrats need 67 total votes.
That means all 47 Democrats and 20 Republicans would need to vote in favor of convicting Trump and having him removed from office.
That is never going to happen.
McConnell wants to make sure all 53 Republicans are united and vote against convicting the president when the final vote is called.
That way, impeachment will die with every single Republican unified against it.
So McConnell gave these few Republicans a little bit of what they wanted. He extended opening arguments one more day so they are happy and will stick with the party.
He's giving them a little something to ensure they are happy and stay unified -- which is what is best for the president.
This will give the president and Republican Party a major boost going into 2020 and send the message that all Democrats care about is removing the duly elected president rather than helping the country.