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Impeachment Proceedings Begin In Earnest As The House of Representatives Presents Its Case

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House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks to a large crowd of media just prior to the start of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. [Jack Gruber/USA TODAY]

On Wednesday Jan. 22, House Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), a lead impeachment manager for the House of Representatives, began the process of presenting the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump before the United States Senate. 

This came after the Senate voted through Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) resolution that outlines the procedure and rules for the impeachment proceedings. Debate concerning the resolution was heated and lasted from Tuesday afternoon into early Wednesday morning. The result was the resolution being passed by a majority vote of 53-47 in which every Republican Senator voted in favor of the procedures, while every Democrat Senator voted against them. 

The main reason for the Democrat’s opposition to the resolution is that it did not guarantee them the opportunity to subpoena key witnesses from the executive branch, but instead made it dependent on a Senate vote later in the proceedings. 

The resolution gives the House of Representatives a maximum time allotment of 24 hours during three session days to present the two articles of impeachment against Trump and the evidence they have collected. After this, the President will get the same amount of time and same number of session days to defend himself in his own presentation to the Senate. The Senate will then have up to 16 hours to question both sides, after which they will vote on whether or not subpoenas will be issued for more witnesses and documents. If they vote yes then witnesses will be deposed and the Senate will decide which of the deposed witnesses will testify, however, if they vote no, then the proceedings will continue on to closing arguments. Finally, the Senate will individually vote on both articles of impeachment, if either article passes, which would require 67 out of the 100 Senate votes, then President Trump will be removed from office.

The first of the House’s three session days began Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.

Representative Schiff used the first two and a half hours to give an overview of the House’s position and give details regarding the articles of impeachment.

He established the cause for the first article of impeachment, abuse of power. 

“President Trump solicited foreign interference in our democratic election,” said Schiff, “abusing the power of his office to seek help from abroad to improve his reelection prospects.”

According to Schiff, Trump attempted a Quid Pro Quo, using military aid and the promise of a state visit to pressure Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky into publicly announcing a corruption investigation into Hunter Biden, son of Trump’s political opponent Joe Biden, and a corruption investigation into the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered with the 2016 presidential election (a theory that lacks any evidence to support itself). 

The House presented evidence to support their claims, including witness testimony from the US Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sonland, and former acting US Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. Both ambassadors were involved in the communications between Trump and Zelensky and seemed to confirm the narrative put forward by the House.

Schiff also justified the second article of impeachment, obstructing congress. 

Schiff claimed that the President’s refusal to allow the House access to any executive documents and his attempt to keep members of the executive branch from testifying during the House’s investigation was a “blatant” attempt at a “coverup” and threatened the balance of power between the branches of government.

The House then continued to expand upon its case well into the evening. 

Students can watch the full day’s proceedings, as well as all future impeachment proceedings, at c-span.org. The next session is scheduled for Thursday Jan. 23, at 1:00 p.m.

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