Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, unveiled ground rules on Monday for President Trump’s impeachment trial that would attempt to speed the proceeding along and refuse to admit the evidence against the president unearthed by the House without a separate vote.
Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, showed his hand hours after Mr. Trump’s legal team called on the Senate to “swiftly reject” the impeachment charges and acquit him, arguing that Democrats would “permanently weaken the presidency” if they succeeded in removing him from office over what the team characterized as policy and political differences.
In a 110-page brief submitted to the Senate the day before Mr. Trump’s trial begins in earnest, the president’s lawyers advanced their first sustained legal argument since the House opened its inquiry in the fall, contending that the two charges approved largely along party lines were constitutionally flawed and set a dangerous precedent.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers dismissed the validity of both articles of impeachment lodged against him — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — because they do not state any specific violation of the law, advancing a constrained and widely rejected interpretation of the power to impeach a president. While the lawyers did not contest the basic facts of the case, they maintained that Democrats’ accusations in effect seek to punish Mr. Trump for foreign policy decisions and efforts to preserve executive prerogatives.
More at the NYTimes