Mitch McConnell Revises Impeachment Rules After Bipartisan Backlash

President Donald Trump is still heading for an almost certain acquittal.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) on Tuesday revised key parts of the roadmap for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial after his initial proposal received a bipartisan backlash.

Both parties will now have 24 hours each over the course of three days to present evidence, as opposed to the two days that were originally allotted. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) called the first iteration a "national disgrace," as the compressed schedule would have forced much of the trial to take place in the middle of the night. 

McConnell also altered a rule that would have blocked House evidence unless the Senate voted to admit it. Now all relevant documents will be automatically entered into the record and barred only if the Senate votes to exclude them.

The majority leader fielded bouts of criticism after straying from his promise to adhere to the Clinton impeachment model, where the Senate had 24 hours to present evidence but no constraints on the number of days it took to do so. Schumer led the Democratic charge, but several Republicans also voiced concerns, including Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.).

"I think that adhering to the Clinton model would have been my preference," Hawley told NBC News. 

Collins' spokesperson, Annie Clark, echoed those sentiments. "She and others raised concerns about the 24 hours of opening statements in 2 days and the admission of the House transcript [in] the record," Clark said in a statement. "Her position has been that the trial should follow the Clinton model as much as possible. She thinks these changes are a significant improvement."

In December, the House impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his alleged role in attempting to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy into publicly announcing investigations into Trump's political rivals. The changes to the trial blueprint notwithstanding, Democrats and Republicans continued to spar Tuesday over subpoenas for documents held by the White House and the need for additional witnesses. In any case, Trump's trial is heading for almost certain acquittal as Democrats would need at least 20 Republicans to convict the president of an impeachable offense.