Trump’s impeachment trial hinges on McConnell and Schumer thumbnail

Trump’s impeachment trial hinges on McConnell and Schumer

Before the Senate can deliver a verdict on whether to oust Trump from office, the “world’s greatest deliberative body” must first set ground rules on the president’s impeachment trial. At issue is what kind of amendments or witnesses to consider, as well as how long the proceedings will go on and what kind of evidence can be introduced, all of which will shape the trial and its fallout.
It’s a process fraught with uncertainty and political peril, particularly with an impeachment trial to come right in the heat of a Democratic presidential primary in which six senators are running to defeat Trump.
Whether the Senate can show some semblance of unity before plunging into what’s sure to be a deeply acrimonious trial will depend on McConnell and Schumer and their ability to keep their caucuses in line.
“There’s no reason we can’t come up with an agreement. .… I’m open to trying to be fair and down the middle and letting the facts come out and be nonpartisan,” Schumer said in an interview on Wednesday. “There’s no reason we can’t come up with good, fair and honest rules.”
“I would think there would be collective interest in trying to get this done in a reasonable time,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a close adviser to McConnell. “I don’t think Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren will object to trying to have a limited time frame to hear the case and to make a decision.”
Some senators are hoping the body can replay the comity it displayed during the opening phases of then-President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has quietly met with McConnell and Schumer to ask for a senators-only meeting — similar to the famous session that occurred in the Old Senate Chamber on Jan. 8, 1999 — to hash out a deal on how to proceed with a Trump trial, if it comes to that. The 1999 impeachment rules package, crafted by then-Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Phil Gramm (R-Texas), passed on a 100-0 vote, which was hailed by senators as a momentous achievement, yet seems nearly impossible to imagine occurring in today’s Senate.
“I talked to the appropriate people,” Leahy said, reprising the role he played more than 20 years ago in trying to bring his colleagues together. “The worst thing that could happen to this body — which is important to this country — is we engage in political gamesmanship.”
McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to comment for this story but said this week that he and Schumer (D-N.Y.) have not discussed the matter.
Yet McConnell added that — given the evidence today — he doesn’t “think there’s any question” the Senate will acquit Trump, a powerful message to the Republican rank-and-file senators he’s led for the past 12 years.
Senators and aides in both parties said the lack of interaction between McConnell and Schumer on this topic is no reason for alarm given that the House has not yet compiled its articles of impeachment. Yet the sense of urgency could be growing, with the House inquiry moving to public hearings next week.
The White
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