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With acquittal assured, Senate debates Trump impeachment

Published: Tuesday, February 04, 2020 @ 1:31 PM

With the official arguments of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial over, Senators thrust themselves into a public debate on the floor of the Senate over the merits of the House charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, with little chance that any of what is said on Tuesday and Wednesday will impact the final impeachment votes.

"This does not even approach a case for the first Presidential removal," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who kicked off debate on Tuesday by denouncing what he labeled the 'constitutionally incoherent' charges of House Democrats.

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"Frankly, it is hard to believe that House Democrats ever really thought this reckless and precedent-breaking process would yield 67 votes," McConnell added.

In a brief response, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer criticized GOP Senators for rejecting efforts to bring in witnesses to further explore what President Trump sought to achieve by pressing Ukraine to announce investigations related to former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 elections.

"This is the first impeachment trial of a President," Schumer said, "that has no witnesses and no documents."

"Why? Because they're afraid of getting to the truth," said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). 

"There is no exoneration, no vindication, no real acquittal from a fake trial," Van Hollen added.

"No one in this country is above the law - no one - not even the President," said Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI).

Just as in the late stages of the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, talk of a resolution of censure emerged in this trial, pressed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who argued President Trump's "behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate."

"I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump," Manchin said on the Senate floor, after observing that there is nowhere near the two-thirds supermajority needed to convict and remove the President from office.

But there was no bipartisan appetite for Manchin's plan.

Final votes on the two impeachment charges against President Trump are scheduled for 4 pm on Wednesday; between now and then, Senators can be recognized on the Senate floor to debate the charges.

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