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McConnell Impeachment Rules Modify Clinton Precedent

No.535645 ViewReplyOriginalReport

WASHINGTON — For weeks, Senator Mitch McConnell sought to deflect charges that he was trying to stack the deck in favor of President Trump in his impeachment trial by repeating that he was merely replicating the Senate’s only modern precedent: the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton.

“What was good enough for President Clinton in an impeachment trial should have been good enough for President Trump,” he told reporters this month, as Democrats pressed him to include a new guarantee for witnesses and documents. “And all we are doing here is saying we are going to get started in exactly the same way that 100 senators agreed to 20 years ago.”

But when Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, finally released a draft of his resolution on Monday evening, less than 24 hours before the Senate was expected to consider it, there were several meaningful differences from the rules that governed Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, some of which were in line with Mr. Trump’s preferences and his legal team’s strategy.

The measure is expected to pass on Tuesday along party lines, over strenuous Democratic objections. Here is a look at the similarities and differences.

A trial running on fast-forward.
While Mr. McConnell proposes that the trial unfold in a similar sequence to the 1999 one — opening statements, then questions from senators, then an up-or-down vote on whether to consider calling witnesses or new evidence — his plan would speed up the proceedings.