After weeks of promising Americans strict impeachment trial rules in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backed off at the last minute.
According to the Associated Press, the trial was supposed to being with a tight, two-day window for opening statements, along with the evidence against President Donald Trump being disallowed from the trial’s record.
However, after a meeting behind closed doors, McConnell submitted a new proposal that stripped the original rules for looser ones — something that Democrat senators had pressured him to change.
Now the opening statements will take place over an extra day and the evidence from the impeachment hearings in the House will be placed in the official record.
AP reports that McConnell made no comments after sending these “handwritten” rule changes.
The decision to allow additional witnesses is still being contested hotly, with a vote coming soon on whether to subpoena individuals like former national security advisor John Bolton or White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
During a lengthy Senate speech, Rep. Adam Schiff lambasted the idea of not having witnesses and evidence brought in.
“If the Senate and the senate leadership … will not allow the calling of witnesses or the presentation of documents, if McConnell makes this the first impeachment trial in history without witnesses or documents, it will not prove the president innocent,” Schiff said.”
“It will merely prove the Senate guilty of working with the president to obstruct the truth from coming out, so I do think that by structuring the trial this way, it furthers our case that what’s going on here really is a cover-up of evidence to the American people,” he concluded.
President Donald Trump, overseas at a global leaders conference in Switzerland, tweeted out, “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!”
READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 21, 2020