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Tue Jan 14, 2020, 06:29 AM

How Trump's Senate impeachment trial will work

Last edited Tue Jan 14, 2020, 07:38 AM - Edit history (2)



01/14/2020 05:11 AM EST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to look a lot like the one that led to the acquittal of Bill Clinton in 1999.

The five-week Clinton trial gripped the nation, featuring extensive public debate of the president’s alleged high crimes and three witness depositions. But the Republican-led Senate that year shot down multiple Democratic efforts to end the trial early, decisions that today's Senate might view differently with an ally in the White House.

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There’s plenty of fine print in the Clinton-era trial rules that McConnell could massage to his advantage. But if the proceedings echo those adopted in 1999, here’s a roadmap of what the trial of Donald J. Trump will look like.


Kyle Cheney ✔ @kyledcheney

NEW: If Trump’s impeachment trial is modeled after Clinton’s, here’s how it will work.

A deep dive on the framework of a trial that could give Dems an unfettered platform to assail Trump’s conduct — but also give Rs several off-ramps.

w/ @AndrewDesiderio

How Trump's Senate impeachment trial will work
Here's a roadmap for the upcoming trial.

THE OATH: In 1999, senators didn’t swear to be impartial just once. After taking the oath collectively, they were called on to swear individually by the chief justice and then sign an “oath book.”

DISMISSAL: If Trump wants his case dismissed quickly, the option will have to be included in the package of rules governing the trial — which will be adopted in the first day or two of proceedings. Clinton’s trial made it in order after opening arguments.

DELAYS: Clinton’s trial recessed for six days right after rules were adopted so that each side could file trial briefs — the documents that will lay out the entire argument for each side.

It means the Trump trial itself likely won’t start until late Jan

OFF-RAMPS: After three weeks of arguments in 1999, senators spent 2 days holding secret debates about whether to dismiss the case or call witnesses. When they emerged, they shot down the first and agreed to the second. This is where things could reverse.

BOTTOM LINE: If the Senate doesn’t dismiss the case right away (and it appears they won’t), the trial is likely to last at least three weeks — for brief filing, arguments and Senate questioning.

6:19 AM - Jan 14, 2020

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