(SOUND BITE) (English) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "Fair is fair." (SOUND BITE) (English) SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "It is completely partisan." The start of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial on Tuesday was all about fairness or the lack thereof, with the leaders from each party in the Senate sparring over the rules of the trial, and Democrats accusing the top Republican of rigging the process.
(SOUND BITE) (English) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING: "The process was good enough for President Clinton, and basic fairness dictates it ought to be good enough for this president as well." (SOUND BITE) (English) SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "Contrary to what the leader said - I'm amazed he could say it with a straight face... that the rules are the same as the Clinton rules - the rules are not even close to the Clinton rules." The night before, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled rules he said would mirror those used in the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton.
But Democrats cried foul, fearing that McConnell’s plan would lead to a potentially quick trial without new testimony or existing evidence, giving the House prosecutors and Trump's lawyers each 24 hours to present arguments over just two days.
But after a closed-door lunch for Republican senators, a spokesman for McConnell said changes were made to give each side three days of opening arguments instead of two, and the rules will now allow the House's record of the impeachment probe admitted as evidence in the trial, as Democrats had demanded.
Trump, who was impeached last month on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, denies any wrongdoing, and on Tuesday his lawyers for the first time got to make their case to senators in person.
(SOUND BITE) (English) CHIEF WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL PAT CIPOLLONE, SAYING: "The only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong." (SOUND BITE) (English) TRUMP LAWYER JAY SEKULOW, SAYING: "Are we here because of a phone call?
Or are we here before this great body because, since the president was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed." The top Democratic House prosecutor Adam Schiff argued the evidence of wrongdoing was overwhelming.
(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "When the Founders wrote the impeachment clause, they had precisely this type of misconduct in mind - conduct that abuses the power of his office for personal benefit, that undermines our national security, that invites foreign interference in our democratic process of an election.
It is the trifecta of constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment." Still, Schiff said further witness testimony was necessary and that Tuesday's vote on the rules for Trump's Senate trial was the most important one.
(SOUND BITE) (English) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "Will there be a fair trial?
I submit that this is an even more important question than the one on guilt or innocence because whether we have a fair trial will determine whether you have a basis to render a fair and impartial verdict... But a great many Americans don't believe that will happen.
Let's prove them wrong." While the Senate voted to block, at least for now, Democrats' demand for new evidence, McConnell said the chamber will vote on it later in the proceedings.
In the 1999 impeachment trial, the Senate ultimately decided that neither Monica Lewinsky nor anyone else would testify in the chamber, but it did allow private videotaped depositions of Lewinsky and two Clinton aides instead.