Impeachment is expected to dominate the news cycle with proceedings officially kicking off in the Senate Tuesday.
CNN, among other news outlets, predicted last week that Senate leaders were preparing for a contentious opening session that could send the chamber into a closed session as Democrats try to force the GOP into accepting witness testimony and documents to be produced during the trial.
The outlet cited “multiple senators and other sources familiar with the planning.”
They said Democrats would try to amend the organizing resolution offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Under McConnell’s plan, there’s expected to be no guarantee that there would be witness testimony or documents produced, decisions Republicans want to punt until after opening arguments are completed on both sides and senators have a chance to ask questions.
“But Democrats will attempt to change that. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to offer at least one amendment to stipulate that witnesses must testify and that documents blocked so far by the White House be turned over to senators,” CNN reported.
Democratic senators told CNN that it’s possible Schumer could try to offer multiple amendments, and that could stretch debate on for several more hours.
That move was because of the expected two hours of debate — equally divided between the two parties — for each amendment.
As of the week’s beginning, there remained uncertainty about how many amendments there would be, or precisely how the opening debate would shake out because McConnell had not unveiled his resolution publicly that would detail the procedures of the trial.
Opening arguments from the House Democratic managers was expected to occur until after debate over the amendments concluded and the Senate resolution becomes adopted. GOP senators were expected to unify and reject the Democratic amendments.
Under the rules, senators are not allowed to debate in open session while the trial is ongoing.
If they want to debate, they would have to go into closed session, and a vote of at least 51 senators is required to make the proceedings private.
Otherwise, the amendments would be debated in public between the House impeachment managers and President Trump’s defense team.
“In the coming days, each of us, every one of us, Democrat and Republican senators, will face a choice about whether to begin this trial in the search of the truth, or in service of President Trump’s desire to cover it up,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Trials have witnesses and documents. Cover-ups don’t.
“We’ve all just been sworn in by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve as judges and jurors in the impeachment trial of President Trump,” Schumer said. “That oath will weigh heavily on Senators to really consider this question about how to have a fair trial, and not just a cover-up.”