How Trump's impeachment trial may look similar to Clinton's, and how it will not

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- As President Donald Trump's impeachment trial gets underway, both sides are pointing to how the Senate handled the proceeding during the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says he modeled the GOP rules for Trump on the ones used for Clinton.

Democrats say that's wrong, noting key differences.

And on Tuesday, McConnell -- under pressure from Republicans who wanted the Trump rules to be closer to those used in 1999 -- abruptly backed down from some controversial proposals and agreed to adopt a timetable closer to the one used for Clinton.

Here's a comparison between 1999 and today:



-- How long each side will speak: The White House lawyers and the prosecutors for the House, who are called House managers, will each get a total of 24 hours spread over three days to make their case to the Senate, just like they did during Clinton's impeachment. During Clinton's impeachment trial, neither side used all of their time.

McConnell initially proposed compressing those 24 hours into two days each, which would have resulted in 12-hour days rather than eight-hour days, but the proposed timeline was abruptly changed Tuesday as debate began.

-- A decision on witnesses likely won't come until after opening arguments and questions from senators: After the House managers and the White House lawyers make their case over six days, the senators will get 16 hours to ask questions of them in writing. Then, there will be four hours of debate by the House managers and Trump attorneys on the question of subpoenaing witnesses and documents.

At that point the Senate will vote on whether to subpoena witnesses and documents. The witnesses would be deposed behind closed doors and then the Senate will consider again whether to hear from them publicly.


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