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  • Writer's pictureMichael McAuliff

Pelosi Rips 'Dark of Night Impeachment Trial' Plan By McConnell

House Democrats are hammering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed rules for truncated impeachment procedures, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying they set up a "dark of night impeachment trial," and a "cover-up."

Under the proposed resolution McConnell released Monday night, the trial of President Trump would proceed similarly to the Clinton impeachment two decades ago, but with significantly shortened time periods for arguments, and, significantly, without allowing the House to submit its impeachment records.

“Leader McConnell’s plan for a dark of night impeachment trial confirms what the American people have seen since Day One: the Senate GOP Leader has chosen a cover-up for the President, rather than honor his oath to the Constitution," Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday morning. "Shamefully, this sham proposal does not even allow for admitting the House record into evidence at the trial."

“Leader McConnell’s process is deliberately designed to hide the truth from the Senate and from the American people, because he knows that the President’s wrongdoing is indefensible and demands removal," she said. "No jury would be asked to operate on McConnell’s absurdly compressed schedule, and it is obvious that no senator who votes for it is intending to truly weigh the damning evidence of the President’s attacks on our Constitution."

"Every Senator who supports this sham process must be held accountable to the American people,” she added.

In a subsequents document sent out by her office, Pelosi detailed the significant departures from the the Clinton trial, and how that could hinder the House impeachment managers' ability to make the case, below:

Unfairly Delays and Limits Possible Witnesses and Documentary Evidence
Under the Clinton Rules, the Managers had received all of the documents and testimony through the Starr Report and accompanying evidence, all they did was additional depositions.  Here, President Trump has denied the House access to a dozen witnesses and has not provided a single document, so delaying the decision unfairly hampers the trial.The Clinton resolution guaranteed the parties 6 hours to actually make motions for subpoenas for new documentary evidence and present arguments on those motions.  In contrast, the McConnell resolution only permits the Senate to hear argument for 4 hours and vote on a very narrow question—namely, the question of whether to consider and debate witness subpoenas.  If the Senate votes no at that point, no party or Senator will be permitted to move to subpoena any witness or documents.  If the Senate votes yes, both sides will be free to make motions to subpoena witnesses, and the Senate can debate and vote on them.  Even then the Senate will need to approve an additional resolution to provide for the actual delivery of the subpoena by the Sergeant at Arms, among other things.
Places Unreasonable Time Limits on the House Managers in an Unprecedented Rush to Cover-Up Trump’s Corruption
The McConnell resolution places unreasonable time restrictions on critical phases of the trial.Pre-Trial Motions: For example, under the McConnell resolution, deadlines are dramatically compressed.  The Clinton rules gave the parties more than 72 hours to prepare motions and more than 40 hours to respond to the motions that were filed.  In contrast, under the McConnell resolution, the parties have less than 24 hours to prepare motions and just 2 hours to respond to any motions filed.Opening Arguments: The McConnell resolution also places an unreasonable limit of 2 session days for each side to present their case.  In contrast, the Clinton rules did not place any artificial limits on the number of session days the parties could present their opening arguments.  The resolution simply placed a generalized 24 hour limit and, in practice, the parties each presented their opening arguments over the course of 3 session days.  The McConnell resolution forces each side to squeeze 24 hours of presentations into 2 session days.Evidentiary Motions: In Clinton, the parties were given 6 hours under S.Res. 16 to present arguments on 3 motions to subpoena witnesses.  Under the McConnell resolution, the parties have 4 hours to present arguments on the question of “whether it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses and documents.” And the impeachment rules would only allow a total of 2 hours for debate on any subpoena that the parties are ultimately permitted to make a motion for (under the impeachment rules).
Excludes the Entire House Record and Paves the Way for Ceaseless Evidentiary Objections
Under the McConnell resolution, there is no guarantee the House record will be entered into evidence at all.  And the first opportunity that it could be admitted into evidence would be after all of the following key trial events have taken place, including: 4 session days/48 hours of opening statements; 16 hours of Senator questions; and 4 hours of argument by the parties on the question of whether it is in order to consider any debate on a motion to subpoena witnesses or documents.  Under the Clinton rules, the record was immediately admitted into evidence and made available to all Senators.  The upshot is that under the McConnell resolution, arguments that rely upon any piece of evidence in the House record may be subject to an objection by any Senator.


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