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Impeachment Trial of President Trump Begins

"History will be our final Judge. Will senators rise to the occasion?" With that question from Democrat Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate closed out regular business Tuesday, Jan. 21, preparing to gavel in the first impeachment since Bill Clinton, only the third Senate trial of a President, and the first of the Twitter age.

On CNN, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was calling the Senate plans for a speedy trial without witnesses a sham that would go down in shame, while commenting on Fox, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the President's defense team, said that the facts were with the President, which was why a speedy acquittal was in the cards.

In Washington, the affiliates of ABC, CBS, and NBC, were all going with live special reports, while the Fox affiliate was going with its counter-programming strategy of sticking with syndicated fare while streaming its live news coverage of the trial online.

The gallery was warned of keeping quiet on penalty of imprisonment.

The trial began by not really beginning. That is, with dueling resolutions regarding the process for holding the trial. The first was from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) setting the rules, including confining the material to what has already been considered by the House in its impeachment inquiry, subject to hearsay objections, if any, by the President.  

No testimony would be admissible unless the witness can be deposed. Democrats objected, beginning what will be hours of debate on how the trial should be conducted.  

Pat Cipollone, lead defense attorney for the President said there would be 24 hours--over three days--for opening statements by the Dems, then the same for the Republicans--followed by 16 hours for questions. After which they would consider the question of witnesses.  

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), lead House manager for the Dems, said they would prove that the President illegally withheld funds to Ukraine (thus coersing a foreign nation) to help him cheat in the 2020 election, part of what he called the "absolute trifecta of constitutional misconduct." He called the Trump the "very evil" the Constitution was designed to prevent. 

Cippolone said that once the Senators had heard the opening statements, the only conclusion they could draw was that the President had did "absolutely nothing wrong." 

The opposing motion, from Sen. Schumer, was what the Dems said was necessary insure there would be a fair trial, so that the senators did not only see part of the evidence. He said if the House can't introduce documents or evidence, it was not only not a fair trial, but was not a trial at all. 

He said only allowing a recounting of the impeachment transcripts was a mockery of a trial. He said witnesses must be allowed to be called, and the Senate have access to documents subpoenaed from the President that have so far been blocked, so they know which witnesses need to be called.

Asked whether the President would be watching the coverage, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: "He has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically."