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2020-01-22 11:12:241 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
It's been a long wait since September, but Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial finally got underway on Tuesday. That first day was spent arguing the rules of how it will work, with Democrats spending most of the day trying to get the Senate to allow witnesses and document evidence, including a subpoena for Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and the Senate denying those requests.
As one of the seven House managers, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) started by trying to use Trump's own words to show the need for witnesses. He showed the senators clips of Trump saying he would "love" to have top officials testify, including Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Additionally, Schiff showed a clip of Trump bragging that Article II of the Constitution gives him "the right to do whatever I want as president." The chairman said it's evidence of Trump's mindset with regard to preventing Congress from seeing documents that are relevant to his shadow Ukraine policy.
"The trial should not reward the president's obstruction," he contended.
House Manager Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) pleaded the case for the Senate to issue subpoenas for additional documents from the White House. She contended it was vital that they adopt a motion to do so.
She explained that the White House is sitting on hundreds of pages of material pertaining to the communications with Ukrainians, the decisions to withhold military aid to Ukraine, and the concerns of staff at the National Security Council that was reported to attorneys. Testimony from NSC employee Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Mike Pence's staffer Jennifer Williams, and former NSC Russia and Europe director Fiona Hill was shown.
"Attorney-client privilege cannot shield information about misconduct," stated Lofgren. She pointed out that most important information should remain at the White House, yet senators should see it.
Following this, on a vote of 53 to 47 along party lines, the Senate rejected the amendment. A second amendment to allow the Senate to obtain State Department documents and records failed 53 to 47 as well.
House Manager Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, presented the case for subpoenaing documents from the Office of Management and Budget, referencing the "memories that are seared in my brain" from his time in the service.
"One of those memories was scavenging scrap metal on the streets of Baghdad in the summer of 2003 — that we had to bolt onto the side of our tracks because we had no armor to protect against roadside bombs," he said. "So when we talk about troops not getting the equipment that they needed when they need it, it's personal to me."
Going through OMB emails, Crow pointed out certain excerpts that show "star examples of the chaos and confusion that the president's scheme set off across our government." He added that "the Senate has an opportunity to obtain and review the full record that could further demonstrate how and why the president was holding the aid."
Allowing the Senate to view the OMB emails also failed in a 53 to 47 vote.
House Manager Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) presented the arguments for allowing the Senate to subpoena Mulvaney.
"Mr. Mulvaney is a highly relevant witness to the events at issue in this trial. Mr. Mulvaney was at the center of every stage of the president's substantial pressure campaign against Ukraine," he said, contending that Mulvaney played a "crucial" role in the planning of the shadow Ukraine policy, executing it, and covering it up.
Jeffries even displayed a chart that showed that at every prior impeachment trial, witnesses were allowed. This included the 15 impeachment trials of presidents, judges, and others. As many as 112 witnesses were allowed in one, with the least allowed being three.
"In at least three of those instances, including the impeachment of Bill Clinton, witnesses appeared before the Senate who had not previously appeared before the House," he said. Mulvaney did not appear before the House committees last fall.
He added that "President Trump's complete and total obstruction makes Richard Nixon look like a choirboy."
The measure was rejected 53 to 47.
House Manager Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) presented the argument for allowing the Senate to subpoena Defense Department documents and records. But first he noted that the defense counsel and some others in the room "have been talking a lot about how late it's getting, how long this debate is taking."
He explained it was even later in other places, such as Europe, "where we have over 60,000 U.S. troops. "I don't think any of those folks want to hear us talk about how tired we are, how late it is," he said. "We have time to have this debate."
That amendment failed 53 to 47, as did another amendment for Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, a Mulvaney aide and an official at the OMB, respectively, to be subpoenaed.
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