Impeachmentpalooza: It took until 2 AM to pass the rules

Say… did you catch the end of the first full day of the impeachment trial? Me neither, because I’m old and I don’t stay up until two in the morning. But many people even older than me, including some who are currently running for President, were forced to hang in there until long after the cows had come home. If any of the Senators seeking the Democratic nomination thought they would have time to dash out to Iowa or New Hampshire after the proceedings they appear to have been mistaken.

The Democrats had eleven different amendments to offer concerning the rules of the trial. They talked on and on and on before each of the eleven were finally defeated on mostly party-line votes. During the earlier hours of this tiresome show, my own feelings were probably best summed up by this friend on Twitter.

In the end, things got rather nasty, particularly a few responses from Jerry Nadler. At one point the Chief Justice had to admonish both sides to remember where they were and who they were addressing. (NBC News)

The vote came just before 2 a.m. Wednesday and after Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., suggested senators were voting for a “cover-up,” something that drew sharp responses from the president’s legal counsel.

Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both House managers and Trump’s counsel, “in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

“I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are,” Roberts said.

Adam Schiff’s participation was particularly draining. He cited any number of precedents from previous impeachment trials of presidents and other officials. But he kept circling back to the “urgent” need for new evidence to be introduced and witnesses to offer testimony. What would these additional elements reveal in terms of proving high crimes and/or misdemeanors? He really couldn’t say. Because you know… we won’t know until we have all this material. That prompted Rich Lowry to make the following observation.

In the end, we were left with pretty much the slightly amended set of rules that Mitch McConnell wanted from the beginning. And under this structure, the rest of the trial really might not drag on for all that long. The House impeachment managers will have a total of 24 hours spread over three days to make their arguments for why the president should be removed from office. Then Trump’s attorneys will receive the same amount of time over the next three days to make his case for acquittal.

So that eats up six days, not counting Sundays. The Senators will then have two more days to submit questions. Then they will vote on whether or not to allow witnesses and additional evidence. That circus will probably have Roberts banging the gavel and calling for civility again.

So when will this actually be finished? Both sides have been given until 9 o’clock this morning to file additional motions, so the morning will likely be taken up with the rest of the Democrats’ requests being shot down. They’re hoping to begin the process of having the impeachment managers make their case by this afternoon, but if there are too many procedural snags that might have to wait until tomorrow. So that means the Democrats will make their case until Saturday night. Monday through Wednesday of next week will be taken up by Trump’s lawyers. The Senators’ question period should wrap up by Friday.

Assuming that the GOP majority shoots down the idea of additional evidence and witnesses, it’s just possible that we could see the vote by Monday, February 3rd. Do you know what else happens on February 3rd? Yep. That’s the date of the Iowa caucus. And that means that Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar could all be stuck in the Senate chambers just as the first official primary votes are being cast, leaving Biden and Buttigieg an open field to make last-minute dashes around the state. Stay tuned.

Jazz Shaw May 06, 2021 7:58 AM ET