Romney tells constituents not to expect him to support calling witnesses before opening arguments.
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and former Republican presidential candidate, issued a statement to his constituents on Tuesday, pledging to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.” All senators took that pledge, but any votes were still expected to be along party lines.
Mr. Romney is one of a handful of Republicans who have said they would be open to a vote on whether to call witnesses, something the Democrats have been demanding. In his statement, Mr. Romney said he would not support efforts to hold a vote on whether to call witnesses until after opening arguments are complete, which, under the majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell’s plan could be next week.
On Monday, Mr. Romney said he supported Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules.
“The allegations outlined in the articles of impeachment passed by the House are extremely serious — did the president abuse his office for personal political gain, and did he obstruct Congress’ investigation by blocking subpoenas?” Mr. Romney said. “These allegations demand that the Senate put political biases aside, and make good faith efforts to listen to arguments from both sides and thoroughly review facts and evidence.”
Schumer promises a tough fight from Democrats.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, denounced his Republican counterpart on Tuesday, hours ahead of what is expected to be a marathon debate over the rules for the Senate trial of President Trump.
Mr. Schumer said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has proposed a trial with “as little evidence as possible” and conducted in secrecy in “the dead of night.”
“The trial doesn’t even allow the evidence from the House to be let in,” Mr. Schumer said during an interview on CNN.
Mr. McConnell on Monday angered Democrats by breaking from his weekslong assertions that Mr. Trump’s trial should be conducted in the same manner as former President Bill Clinton’s 1999 trial. Mr. McConnell’s draft resolution proposes meaningful changes from the way Mr. Clinton’s trial was conducted, including not automatically admitting the Democrat-led House’s findings as evidence. McConnell aides said the majority leader never intended to follow the Clinton model exactly.
Senate Democrats intend to force votes on amendments to Mr. McConnell’s resolution today that will highlight the fact that it does not guarantee witnesses or new evidence.
Mr. McConnell does not want to hear from new witnesses, including testimony from John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser who most likely has firsthand accounts of the White House’s improper pressure on Ukraine.
Of a possible scenario in which senators hear testimony from Mr. Bolton in a closed, classified setting, but not in public, Mr. Schumer said, “Cover up, cover up, cover up.”
House managers call on White House counsel to disclose his knowledge of impeachment-related conduct.
Escalating a war of paperwork over their charges, the House managers insisted on Tuesday that Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel and his lead lawyer in the trial, disclose what he knows about the behavior underlying the impeachment charges.
“Evidence indicates that, at a minimum, you have detailed knowledge of the facts regarding the first article and played an instrumental role in the conduct charged in the second article,” the managers wrote. “The ethical rules generally preclude a lawyer from acting as an advocate at a trial in which he is likely also a necessary witness.”
The managers stopped short of calling for Mr. Cipollone to recuse himself from the proceedings. But they said their investigation had shown Mr. Cipollone had intimate knowledge of contemporaneous complaints within the White House about President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine and was instrumental in his attempts to block testimony and evidence from reaching the House — attempts the House deemed unconstitutional obstruction of Congress.
Trump escapes Washington for Switzerland and brags about the economy.
On the day that the Senate begins his impeachment trial in earnest, President Trump is 4,000 miles away on a snowy mountain, talking trade and the global economy.
Mr. Trump arrived in Davos, Switzerland, at 2:21 a.m. Tuesday morning to address the World Economic Forum — slipping out of the Washington circus surrounding what he calls the “hoax” taking place in the Capitol.
The president did not mention impeachment in his 30-minute speech to the chief executives, celebrities and heads of state at the Alpine gathering. Instead, in remarks that felt like one of his campaign rallies without the red-meat, he bragged about an economic success in the United States “the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
He implicitly slammed climate change proponents — including teenager Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist — calling them the “heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.” But he did say the United States would join an initiative to plant one trillion trees around the globe.
Asked whether Mr. Trump was planning to watch any of the impeachment trial, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said: “He has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically.”
Democrats are livid about the proposed trial rules.
The impeachment trial for President Trump will reconvene Tuesday afternoon with a raucous debate over proposed ground rules for the proceedings unveiled Monday night by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.
Mr. McConnell’s proposal includes the following provisions: (1) House prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s defense team each get 24 hours over two days to argue their cases; (2) evidence collected by the House could be admitted into the record only by a majority vote; and (3) Republicans have the option to make a motion to dismiss the trial before arguments from either side are heard.
Democrats quickly attacked Mr. McConnell’s proposed rules as little more than what they called a “cover up” that would shorten the trial and allow the president’s allies to refuse to admit evidence collected by the House about Mr. Trump’s actions. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, promised to offer a “series of amendments” to alter them.
If it is adopted, Mr. McConnell’s resolution will also provide 16 hours for senators to ask questions after they hear presentations by the House prosecutors and the White House defense team. That would be followed by four hours of debate on whether to seek additional witnesses or other evidence. If no witnesses are called, the Senate would move quickly to deliberation and a final vote on the articles of impeachment.