President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial kicked off in the Senate this week with a fierce battle over the rules of the proceedings. For their part, Democrats had hoped to subpoena the White House for additional documents. But thanks to Senate Republicans, those hopes were just dashed.
In a 53–47 vote on Tuesday, Republicans in the upper chamber shot down a demand from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for documents related to Trump’s now-infamous July 2019 telephone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, the Washington Examiner reported. The decision was made entirely along party lines.
Time to act?
The senators’ vote came ahead of opening arguments from the House’s impeachment managers, seven members of Congress hand-picked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to represent the House in the Senate’s trial. Among those managers, according to The Hill, are Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who led the push for the documents.
“The Senate should act on this subpoena now, at the outset of the trial,” Lofgren said, according to the Examiner. “If it won’t even ask for this evidence, this trial, and your judgment, will be questioned.”
Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who Pelosi appointed as lead manager, weighed in on the controversy as well.
“No trial in America has ever been conducted like that,” Schiff complained of the possibility that the alleged evidence would not be reviewed. “If you are going to make a decision about whether to remove this president from office,” he added, “you should want to see what these documents say.”
But lead Trump attorney Pat Cipollone wasn’t on board with Schiff’s rationale. He contended that the Senate shouldn’t pursue evidence that the House couldn’t have been bothered to collect in their inquiry.
“Never before in the history of our country has a president been confronted with this kind of impeachment proceeding in the House,” he said before the Senate, according to the Examiner.
An uphill battle
While Democrats are moving forward with their efforts to remove the president from office, polling data shows that much of the public isn’t following them. A Gallup survey published this week found that 51% of Americans want Trump to remain in office for the remainder of his term.
That feeling is strongest among Republicans and independents, but even 15% of Democrats said they are not in favor of Trump’s ouster.
The Gallup poll, conducted Jan. 2–15, also revealed that impeachment hasn’t taken a toll on Trump’s approval rating; his numbers sit higher than when the impeachment inquiry first began. “Currently, 88% of Republicans, 37% of independents, and 10% of Democrats approve of the job Trump is doing,” Gallup reported.
With this in mind — and Republicans in Senate obviously not buying what Democrats are selling — it’s clear that this whole charade has been little more than a grand waste of time. And when Trump is acquitted at the end of all of this, the American people will likely be saying as much.