As per the ruled of the trial passed by the Senate Tuesday, House managers and lawyers on behalf of Trump will have 24 hours to present their cases over the three days. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Led by Congressman Adam Schiff, House Democrats on Wednesday began making a strong case before Senators to remove President Donald Trump in the third ever impeachment trial in the American history. Knowing that they are unlikely to succeed in ousting Trump from the White House as Republicans enjoy a 53-47 majority in the 100-membered Senate, the managers of the House, wherein Democrats enjoy a majority, had their arguments on the Senate floor with an eye on the November elections. Making a strong plea before Senators, Democratic Congressman Schiff, who is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, accused Trump of using his power to cheat in the elections.
“Today we will begin our trial with the factual chronology. The facts are damning. We're going to lay them out in great detail in our chronology today,” Schiff told reporters before he went to the Senate to argue against the president. In his opening argument, Schiff quoted founding father Alexander Hamilton who imagined a scenario in which future president would put personal interest ahead of that of the nation.
“We are here today in this hallowed chamber, undertaking this solemn action for only the third time in history, because Donald J Trump, the 45th President of the United States, has acted precisely as Hamilton and his contemporaries had feared," he asserted.
“President Trump solicited foreign interference in our democratic elections, abusing the power of his office by seeking help from abroad to improve his reelection prospects at home. And when he was caught, he used the powers of that office to obstruct the investigation into his own misconduct," Schiff said.
The 435-member House on December 18 charged Trump with "high crimes and misdemeanors" and impeached him for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential Democratic rival for the current president in the 2020 elections.
The days proceedings on Wednesday began with Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayer. "Help them remember that patriots reside on both sides of the aisle, that words have consequences, and that how something is said can be as important as what is said. Give them a civility built upon integrity that brings consistency in their beliefs and actions," Black said.
The impeachment trial is being presided over by the Supreme Court's Chief Justice John Roberts. As per the ruled of the trial passed by the Senate Tuesday, House managers and lawyers on behalf of Trump will have 24 hours to present their cases over the three days.
As per the decorum guidelines, during the impeachment trial, Senators are supposed to stick to their seats and not talk to others, and not bring cell phones or tablets to the floor.
But a number of Senators on both sides were seen breaking this decorum. “I am not somebody who is very good at sitting at one place,” said Senator Pat Thune.
On the Senate floor, Senators were allowed to drink only water and milk. A large number of Senators were seen drinking milk. Trump's lawyers led by Pat Ciplollone and Jay Sekulow are planning to make a strong defense for the president. Based on their multiple television interviews and interaction with reporters they are likely to paint Trump as a victim of a partisan charade.
“We will challenge aggressively the case that they're putting forward based on what we're hearing, and we also have an affirmative case as well,” Sekulow told CNN on Wednesday.
“They're not here to steal one election. They're here to steal two elections. It's buried in the small print of their ridiculous articles of impeachment. They want to remove President Trump from the ballot,” Cipollone said.
Soon after Trump returned to the White House after attending the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, the White House alleged that Schiff's one-sided impeachment report -- the document that serves as the basis for Democrats' entire case -- is nothing but a partisan hatchet job. “Rather than drawing more attention to their flimsy, fake 'investigation,' Schiff chose to deflect and make up more lies about President Trump,” it said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein said the case made by the House impeachment managers is a fact-based case that lays out how Trump tried to trade nearly USD 400 million in appropriated funds for Ukraine in exchange for its interference in our upcoming presidential election. “We also continue to hear from the House managers about why we need to have access to documents and witnesses,” she said.