Impeachment trial of President Trump
The Senate killed another proposed amendment to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed rules for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, this one to force votes on witnesses and documents.
The amendment died on party lines, 53-47.
The amendment would have forced a vote of the Senate on any motion to subpoena witnesses and documents. The current proposed rules have a procedural vote that must pass before any actual vote on subpoenas for witnesses and documents.
The Senate voted 53-47 along party lines to kill a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that would have issued a subpoena for President Donald Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton's testimony.
Bolton has said he would testify if subpoenaed in the trial, and that still may come if a majority of senators vote to issue a subpoena later on in the trial. The amendment discussed Wednesday would have inserted the subpoena into the rules of the trial itself.
Schumer has asked for eight amendments to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed rules for the impeachment trial and all have been defeated on party lines.
The Senate is now debating a ninth amendment, which requires a vote of the Senate on any motion to subpoena witnesses and documents. The current proposed rules have a procedural vote that must pass before any actual vote on subpoenas for witnesses and documents.
Chief Justice John Roberts admonished the House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s legal team after a feisty exchange in the early morning hours.
“I think it is appropriate for me to admonish both the House managers and the President's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said. “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.”
Roberts had just listened to the impeachment manager and Trump’s legal team rip into each other after House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler made the case for issuing a subpoena for former national security adviser John Bolton’s testimony.
During that argument, Nadler accused Republican senators of “voting for a coverup” by killing amendments for documents and testimony of additional witnesses.
"So far, I'm sad to say, I see a lot of senators voting for a coverup. Voting to deny witnesses and obviously a treacherous vote,” Nadler said. “A vote against an honest consideration of the evidence against the President. A vote against an honest trial. A vote against the United States.”
That led to White House counsel Pat Cipollone to fire back at Nadler, saying, "The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you. For the way you addressed this body. This is the United States Senate. You're not in charge here.”
Roberts said that kind of exchange was not appropriate and the legal teams need to be on their best behavior.
“I think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts said.
Watch moment here:
White House counsel Pat Cipollone chastised House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler for his argument in favor of former national security adviser John Bolton’s testimony, during which Nadler repeatedly accused Senate Republicans of participating in a coverup if they denied Democratic requests for witnesses.
Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, harangued the Senate just after midnight on Wednesday on multiple occasions, saying, “The Senate is on trial in the eyes of the American people” and voting in favor of restricting witnesses was akin to being “complicit in the President’s coverup.”
“Will you vote to allow all of the evidence to be presented here? Or will you betray your pledge to be impartial juror?” Nadler said. “Will you bring Bolton here and permit us to present you with the entire record of the President's misconduct? Or choose to be complicit in the President's cover up."
"So far, I'm sad to say, I see a lot of senators voting for a coverup. Voting to deny witnesses and obviously a treacherous vote. A vote against an honest consideration of the evidence against the President. A vote against an honest trial. A vote against the United States.”
That led Cipollone to say Nadler owed the Senate an apology.
“We have been respectful of the Senate. We have made our arguments to you. And you don't deserve, and we don't deserve, what just happened,” Cipollone said. “Mr. Nadler came up here and made false allegations against our team, he made false allegations against all of you. He accused you of a cover up. He's been making false allegations against the President."
"The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you. For the way you addressed this body. This is the United States Senate. You're not in charge here.”
Jay Sekulow, another one of Trump’s attorneys, continued the onslaught against Nadler.
“We hopefully are closing the proceedings. Not on a high note,” Sekulow said. “’Only guilty people try to hide evidence’? So I guess when President Obama instructed the attorney general to not give information, he was guilty of a crime.
"That's the way it works, Mr. Nadler? Is that the way the United States Constitution works? Because that's not the way it was written. That's is not the way it is interpreted. And there's not the way the American people should have to live. I'll tell you what's treacherous -- coming to the floor of Senate and say, 'Executive privilege and other non-sense.' ”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered his eighth amendment to the proposed rules for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial: Issuing a subpoena for former national security adviser John Bolton.
Bolton is seen as perhaps the most important person who has not yet been heard from in the impeachment investigation into Trump's dealings in Ukraine. He's a central figure who had been present for many of the events that are crucial to the investigation, but did not comply with a subpoena to testify in the House investigation.
Bolton, earlier this month, said he would testify if subpoenaed in the Senate impeachment trial.
"He stated his willingness to testify in the trial," said Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat who is one of the House impeachment managers. "He's prepared to testify. He says he is relevant evidence not disclosed to the public."
The Senate killed the seventh proposed amendment to the proposed rules to President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. This amendment had to do with rules on how evidence is handled during the trial. The amendment died on a party line 53-47 vote.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has previously offered six amendments, all of which have died on 53-47 votes.
House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, explained the seventh proposed amendment by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as an attempt to close a “gaping hole” in the proposed rules for the trial.
Schiff said the proposed rules for the trial currently allow President Donald Trump’s team to “cherry pick documents he has refused to produce to the House, and attempt to admit them into evidence here. That would enable the President to use his obstruction not only as a shield to his misconduct but also as a sword in his defense.”
“The amendment addresses that issue by providing that if any party seeks to admit, for the first time, here information that was previously subject to subpoena, that party must do a simple and fair thing,” Schiff said. “It must provide the opposing party all of the other documents responsive to the subpoena. That is how the law works in America.”
Schiff was speaking at the beginning of the latest block of debate over a proposed amendment. The six previous amendments proposed by Schumer have all been killed on party lines, 53-47.
Schiff said the amendment would also require proper handling of confidential and classified information.
Trump's legal team objected to the amendment, with Patrick Philbin, deputy counsel to the President, arguing that the subpoenas issued by the House during the impeachment inquiry were not duly authorized. Philbin argued that because the House began its investigation without holding a full vote authorizing the inquiry, the subpoenas that the administration ignored were not authorized correctly.
"The first 23 subpoenas, at a minimum, that the House committees issued were all unauthorized and that is why the Trump administration did not respond to them and did not comply with them," he said.
The Senate killed the sixth proposed amendment to the impeachment trial rules, once again on a party line vote of 53-47.
The Senate is now considering a seventh amendment from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. This one would require that each side must provide the other any evidence that is gathered from a duly authorized subpoena. The amendment would apply to any evidence that is already not a part of the collection of evidence gathered by House investigators during the impeachment inquiry.
The aim is to avoid the selective admission of evidence and for the proper handling of classified and confidential material, according to Schumer's office.
Former Florida attorney general and White House adviser Pam Bondi appeared for the first time on President Donald Trump's behalf at the Senate trial late Tuesday evening, during the debate over an amendment to subpoena White House budget officials Michael Duffey and Robert Blair.
She corrected House managers, saying Duffey didn't come to the Office of Management and Budget from a state job, but instead that he had been a deputy chief of staff at the Department of Defense. "Big difference there," she said.
She also claimed that the House committees would not allow agency counsel to appear with Duffey or Blair, which Schiff countered during remarks immediately after.
She invoked dramatic language, saying the hypocrisy of House Democrats "is astounding," that they "threw due process and fundamental fairness out the window," lamenting "secret bunker hearings" during the House impeachment inquiry and called House proceedings a "one-sided circus."