- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Senate early Wednesday approved rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump, wrapping up a marathon session that marked the first day of arguments in the historic proceedings.

The GOP-proposed rules package passed in a party-line vote, 53-47. The same tally that decided nearly every Democratic challenge to the rules in the 13 hours of arguments that lasted until nearly 2 a.m.

The back-and-forth at trial over calling witnesses followed weeks of Democrats demanding more evidence for the upper chamber’s hearing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held on to the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — for about a month in an attempt to influence the process.

Democrats failed in each attempt to require more administration documents and administration witness at the trail, where senators are the jury that decides the House impeachment case.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his Republican conference were united about following the same procedures used for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, which put off votes on witnesses until later.

Back then, the Senate unanimously agreed to the rules for Mr. Clinton.

Mr. McConnell unexpectedly bowed to criticism of his proposal to give each side 24 hours over two days to make their case. That timeline could have extended each trial day until 1 a.m. and prompted critics to label the majority leader “Midnight Mitch.”

The rules resolution adopted gives each side 24 hours over three days, the same timeline used in Mr. Clinton’s trial.

Mr. McConnell’s office said the change was made after discussions with his GOP members.

Following the 48 hours of arguments, the rules give senators 16 hours to submit questions.

The issue of witnesses or other new evidence would follow the questions. It would take 51 senators to call a witness.

Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the upper chamber. The Democratic caucus controls 47.

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