President Donald Trump will stay in office due to the Senate acquittal vote
The end of the impeachment of President Donald Trump has officially come. It’s the 21st anniversary of Bill Clinton’s acquittal vote, and last week, Feb. 5, one day after the State of the Union and two days after the Iowa Caucus, Trump was also acquitted of both Articles of Impeachment, Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Justice. Since the very beginning, many politicians and news analysts kept predicting what had come true.
Since our president was the third to be impeached and face trial on Dec. 18, many things had happened including the senatorial trial. It took 28 days after the vote for Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, to proceed with the next step of the process. That next step was her choosing seven impeachment managers, whose job is to prosecute the case, and for the Articles to be ceremonially hand-delivered and read to the Senate. When it eventually happened, Chief Justice John Roberts from the Supreme Court presided over the senators swearing-in their constitutional oath, which is different from what criminal trials use. They also had to sign the oath book showing that they agree to be impartial. That was on Jan.16. Everything that had happened on that day was part of the unchanged impeachment trial rules from 1868.
The senatorial trial itself didn’t start until Jan. 21, in the early afternoon as stated in those 1868 rules. On that day, both the defense and managers debated for or against the proposed rules of how the trial should go. Through these debates, the managers used tactics that include why the trial shouldn’t be rushed but should be fair, by comparing the past impeachments and using visuals. This included being able to call witnesses and subpoena for state documents. On the other side, the tactic the defense used includes explaining why the trial should be over quickly, how the evidence brought by the managers were false from the beginning and how the managers were afraid to make their case. But, before the rules were voted on, the Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, changed how long each side was able to present their opening statements and arguments. The rules that were agreed on were senators were not being able to stand on the Senate floor, not talking, not able to have cell phones, commanded to keep silence on pain of imprisonment, submit all questions in writing and only drink water and milk.
Using the rules similar to the Clinton trial, each side started with three days of arguments. The prosecution presented first. Beginning with Jan. 22, the lead manager Adam Schiff and the other seven managers presented the case on how they saw the evidence lineup chronology. Through Schiff’s 2.5 hour opening statement, he outlined a basic summary of the case with the mind that the senators paid no attention up to the trial. Jerry Nadler, chair of the Judiciary Committee, through his 50 minute speech outlined how the arguments would be played out. On Jan. 23, Nadler first demonstrated the facts of the first article. Then, each of the other managers analyzed thereafter. On Jan. 24, Nadler and the other managers finished demonstrating the facts and analysis of the second article. By the end of the night, lead manager Schiff wrapped the House presentation through his closing argument, which was his last call of asking for a fair trial.
On the other side, the defense started their arguments on Jan. 25. Since they started on a rare Saturday morning, the timing of the day changed with the arguments. They spent day one pointing out the evidence that the managers “adduced,” meaning failed to introduce, into the record without going way into detail on what the house mentioned. They also started to dip into contradicting the managers without getting into the aggressive argument. When the trial reconvened on Jan. 27, the defense team started with Ken Starr, the key prosecutor in the Clinton trial, to defend the president from a historical perspective. For the rest of that day, others on the team continued to contradict the evidence brought in by the managers but with more detail. Other than contradicting the evidence, the defense team had Alan Dershowitz, an American scholar of constitutional and criminal law that was apart of both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, to provide an argument based upon how the constitution sees it. On the last day of arguments, Jan. 28, the defense continued to use the constitution and its framework to provide some more points to their argument. Lastly, the defense presented their closing arguments asking the senators to help defend the fundamental fairness, concluding the presentational portion of the trial.
The period of questioning began on Jan. 29, when the senators wrote down and submitted to the Chief Justice what they want to be answered from both sides. Providing context, they are still using the same rules as the Clinton trial. The rule was that under the ‘rebuttable presumption that each question can be fully and fairly answered in five minutes or less.’ This came after they were being silent listening to both sides within the six days of arguments. The following day, Jan. 30, both sides spent 16 hours answering those questions brought up by the senators. Other than the questioning, one of the biggest questions that were in light was the witnesses, which they voted to not allow them, 51 to 49, on Jan. 31 after several hours of debate.
After the failed vote for witnesses, the trial reconvened on Feb. 3 for the final closing arguments, brought by both the managers and the defense. The difference this time was that the managers had to open and close the arguments, based upon the rules of the trial. The Senate reconvened for the final time, on Feb. 5, debating on the vote to acquit or convict with the Democrats needing 67 votes. Seven weeks later, in roughly 20 minutes, the Senate ended up acquitting Trump with a vote of 52 to 48 on Article I: Abuse of Power and 53 to 47 on Article II: Obstruction of Justice. The significance behind the vote was that now it can’t be said that the president had a partisan acquittal, as what the White House hoped for.
~Joshua Grimes, Staff Writer~