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The Circus Has Come to Town
Author: BobR    Date: 01/22/2020 13:58:26

The charade has begun. pResident tRump's impeachment trial got under way with the first step being to set the rules and boundaries of the process. Votes and arguments went along party lines, as expected. The key points of contention involved bringing in new witnesses to testify, as well as new evidence (e.g.: Lev Parnas data dump).

Ultimately, the rules were voted on and approved along party lines at 2:00 AM this morning. Surprisingly, there had been some pushback on McConnell by his own party members:
McConnell stunned senators and delayed the start of proceedings with his decision to back off some of his proposed rules. He made the adjustment after encountering resistance from Republicans during a closed-door lunch meeting. Senators worried about the political optics of “dark of night” sessions that could come from cramming the 24 hours of opening arguments from each side into just two days.

Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, who often buck party leadership, along with a substantial number of other Republicans, wanted to make the changes, according to people familiar with the situation.

It was only when the clerk started reading the dry language of the resolution that the hand-written changes to extend debate to three days became apparent. It also allowed the House impeachment record to be included in the Senate.

Still - the changes were hardly anything for Dems to cheer about. McConnell had proposed 24 hrs for each side's opening arguments (prosecution and defense), conducted over 2 days each. That meant 12 hrs per day. Extending that over 3 days means 8 hrs per day, but it's still just 24 hrs.

One of the main reasons the Democrats want to have witnesses testify, is because several were prohibited from testifying by the White House during the impeachment hearings (which is also one of the reasons for the Obstruction of Congress charge). I haven't seen whether or not witnesses will be allowed, but if so, the original proposal was to depose them privately, then vote on whether to have them testify publicly. I think we all know how that will turn out.

Imagine a "regular" criminal trial where the defense tried to argue that witnesses shouldn't be allowed to testify and/or evidence collected after an indictment was made would not be allowed in the court trial. It's crazy, but this is what they (the Republicans) are demanding.

Those worried (or hopeful) that Chief Justice Roberts would allow this to become more than the farce it already is probably got a bit of a shock when he admonished the senators, House prosecuters, and tRump's lawyers for their combative rhetoric:
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts warned the attorneys for President Donald Trump and the House impeachment managers to watch their tone as the first day of the proceedings wound down.

Roberts told both sides to “remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body”:
One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse.

He noted that during the 1905 impeachment trial of federal judge Charles Swayne, a senator objected to the use of the word “pettifogging” (which means “worrying too much about details that are minor or not important,” per Merriam-Webster).

“I don’t think we need to aspire to that high a standard,” Roberts said. “But I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.”

As of right now, 51% of Americans polled think tRump should be removed from office. One hopes that moderate Republican senators, and those from swing states are paying attention. Aiding and abetting tRump in his anti-constitutional behavior will look badly on their records during a campaign season.

4 comments (Latest Comment: 01/22/2020 16:41:59 by wickedpam)
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