The opening statements in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump are set to begin Wednesday following a marathon session Tuesday in which trial rules were finalized and Democrats’ efforts to introduce new documents and witnesses were shot down, at least for now.
Wednesday’s proceedings started at noon.
Both the House managers, serving as the prosecution, and Trump’s defense team will have 24 hours over three days each to present their opening statements. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially proposed giving each side two days each but made a change after pushback from moderate Republicans.
Assuming both sides take all of their allotted time, the opening statements will last through next Tuesday. The trial is in session six days a week, taking Sundays off.
The opening arguments come after a 13-hour marathon Tuesday in which nearly a dozen amendments were introduced, mainly about allowing witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and subpoenaing documents related to Ukraine.
Almost all the Democratic amendments were shot down along party lines, 53-47. But, they could be revisited later.
The one outlier was a 52-48 vote against ensuring that there would be a vote later on additional witnesses. The one Republican to cross party lines there was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who has voiced she is open to hearing witnesses. Collins, who is facing a tough re-election campaign in November, is one of four Republicans seen as possibly crossing party lines on witnesses in the future.
After opening arguments, the rules allow for each side to get 16 hours of questions from senators, who are the jurors. After that, senators will then decide if they will accept more evidence or witnesses.
If no new evidence or witnesses are added, there is a chance the trial could end before Trump’s State of the Union, set for Feb. 4.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump repeated his frequent talking points by calling the trial a “hoax” and a “witch hunt” while touting the economic successes of his administration.