Facing opposition from within Republican ranks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented an amended rules proposal on Tuesday to govern the start of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial, most significantly giving more time for House prosecutors and the President's lawyers to make their opening arguments.
The changes came after a lunch meeting of GOP Senators, where Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and others expressed reservations about the idea of forcing each side to cram 24 hours of opening arguments into just two days.
"She and others raised concerns about the 24 hrs of opening statements in 2 days," a spokeswoman for Collins told reporters.
Along with that change, McConnell backed off a provision which would not allow evidence from the House impeachment investigation to be put in the record without a vote of the Senate.
Senator Collins spox: "She and others raised concerns about the 24 hrs of opening statements in 2 days and the admission of the House transcript is the record. Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible..."— Alan He (@alanhe) January 21, 2020
The changed Senate impeachment rules resolution allowing more time pic.twitter.com/TSUJFdVS9c— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) January 21, 2020
The changes were made as House prosecutors and the President's legal team made their first extended statements of the Trump impeachment trial.
"Why should this trial be any different than any other trial? The short answer is, it shouldn't," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), as he made the case that the Senate rules would not pass muster in a regular courtroom.
"This idea that we should ignore what has taken place over the last three years is outrageous," said Jay Sekulow, the President's personal attorney, who joined White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in arguing against the impeachment charges.
"It's very difficult to sit there and listen to Mr. Schiff tell the tale that he just told," Cipollone said, in one of the first direct jabs of the impeachment trial.
“A partisan impeachment is like stealing an election,” Cipollone added.
House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff: "When the founders wrote the impeachment clause, they had precisely this type of misconduct in mind. ... It is the trifecta of constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment" https://t.co/3KXPGxYfsr pic.twitter.com/6gc9rs3koN— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 21, 2020
President Trump's counsel gives opening remarks ahead of Senate trial: "We believe that once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong" https://t.co/Ax4KlqNaCS pic.twitter.com/N21LW15Vjt— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 21, 2020
While there were GOP differences on the rules package offered by Republican leaders, GOP Senators stuck together on the first substantive vote of the impeachment trial, defeating an effort by Democrats to subpoena certain materials from the White House.
The first vote was 53-47 to block an amendment offered by the Democratic Leader, Sen. Schumer. It was straight along party lines.
A second vote along party lines blocked a call by Democrats to subpoena documents from the State Department.
Opening arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.