Tempers flared and heated words were exchanged on the Senate floor as the impeachment trial of President Trump extended into the wee hours Wednesday, prompting Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to admonish both sides.
The skirmish erupted with House impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler accused senators of casting a “treacherous vote” if they opposed a Democratic amendment to subpoena former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton.
“Will you bring Ambassador Bolton here? Will you permit us to present you with the entire record of the president’s misconduct? Or will you instead choose to be complicit in the president’s coverup,” Mr. Nadler told the chamber. “So far I’m sad to say I see a lot of senators voting for a coverup, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote.”
He condemned the Senate’s votes as “embarrassing.”
Mr. Nadler’s remarks drew a stern rebuttal from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, calling out Mr. Nadler by name for “making false allegations” and accusing the White House legal team and the Senate of “a cover-up.”
“The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler is you, for the way you’ve addressed the United States Senate,” he said. “It’s about time we bring this power trip in for a landing.”
Following the exchange, Justice Roberts intervened in the proceedings for the first time to admonish the conduct.
He reminded both sides to “remember where they are” and that they are addressing the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”
“In the 1905 Swayne trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word ‘pettifogging’ and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used,” Justice Roberts said. “I don’t think we need to aspire to that high a standard, but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”
He referred to the impeachment trial of U.S. District Judge Charles Swayne, who was acquitted of charges of corruption and misconduct.
The Senate rejected the measure to subpoena Mr. Bolton in a party-line vote, 53-47. The same outcome of nearly every Democratic amendment to change trial rules to require more administration documents or testimony by administration officials.
All but one of the 11 amendments offered by Senate Democrats failed in a party-line vote. An amendment that guaranteed a vote on witnesses later in the trial garnered support from one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is viewed as one of the most likely GOP defectors.
Last month, Mr. Trump was impeached by the House on two articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, said he disagreed with Chief Justice Roberts scolding both sides, saying the jurist should have singled out the House Democratic impeachment managers for rudeness.
“With respect, he should have,” Mr. Lee said on Fox News. “I thought that was unfair of him to direct that [admonishment] at both sets of counsels. It felt to me like collective punishment for isolated guilt. This was the fault of the House management prosecution team. They were rude, they were insulting, they were demeaning — not just to the president, but to their opposing counsel, and indeed to the Senate itself.”
Mr. Lee said he even “took notes on the number of times that they were personally insulting.”
The lawmaker said overall he thought that the chief justice did a good job on the first day of the impeachment trial.
“I am grateful to the chief justice,” Mr. Lee said. “His demeanor was great, he maintained his patience.”
• Dave Boyer contributed to this story.